3-pointer: Yi Jianlian proves he's ready to go

April, 11, 2012
4/11/12
9:00
AM CT
DALLAS -- Yi Jianlian hadn't played meaningful minutes since March 13. He hadn't made more than one bucket since Feb. 29.

Rust? Forget that.

Rick Carlisle's second-quarter look at a lineup with Brandan Wright at power forward now that Lamar Odom is out of the picture and Ian Mahinmi at center was short-circuited thanks to Mahinmi's foul trouble. In stepped Yi at the 10:22 mark, and less than five minutes later the 7-footer from China had splashed four jumpers from 17 feet and deeper for eight points to quickly surpass Odom's average of 6.6.

"It was huge for us. It energized us and kept us going," Carlisle said. "Even though we didn't play a great first half because we were turning it over, his hoops made a big difference for us."

Yi played 5:43 in the first half and went to the locker room tied for the team scoring lead with Brendan Haywood, while Dirk Nowitzki was 1-of-6 for four points and the starting five managed just 23 points.

That's how impactful Yi's instant offense was to the cause. In fact, Odom had scored at least eight points in just three of his last 21 games.

"He was great, came in looking for his shot right away, made a couple, brought some energy, brought some toughness there on the post," Nowitzki said. "I've always liked him. I like what he brings to the team. Hopefully he can gain some momentum, some confidence and keep playing well."

What does this mean for Yi in upcoming games? That's hard to answer. But with four games in five nights coming up on a challenging road trip, Yi could be in line to see at least some spot minutes.

"I think the guys understand that there is some fluidity to our rotation, that everybody has to be ready," Carlisle said. "Yi gave the greatest example tonight of the importance of depth on this team in this season. What he did tonight was professional, I mean that's a pro. The guy has kept himself completely ready and to come in there and knock in four shots in a row, it's big time."

A member of the Chinese media contingent that follows Yi throughout the season enjoyed the Yi-Wright combination at the 4 and 5 so much during that second-quarter stretch that he asked Nowitzki if that pairing reminds him at all of a Nowitzki-Tyson Chandler pairing.

"That's stretching it a little bit, my friend," Nowitzki said.

Here's three more points to digest as the Mavs are already in San Francisco for Thursday's start to the four-game road trip at game at Golden State.

1. 100 and unbeateable?: The Mavs don't score 100 much these days. In fact, they don't even average 95 points a game. But when they do get the offense cranking and score at least 100 points, they're 17-1 and 17 for their last 17. They haven't lost a game scoring 100 points since the third game of the season at Oklahoma City when Kevin Durant's buzzer-beating 3-pointer did in Dallas, 104-102. When they score 110 or more, the Mavs are now 4-0.

2. Wright's right stuff: Brandan Wright has become a fan favorite because of his tremendous alley-oop dunks, mostly from Jason Terry, and lately he's been getting the largest share of minutes at the center position. Most impressive was his 36 minutes at Memphis with Ian Mahinmi away from the team to be with his fiancée for the birth of the their daughter. Wright put up 16 points and six rebounds. There was concern headed into that one that the lanky center wouldn't be able to hold his own against behemoth Grizzlies center Marc Gasol. Tuesday against the Kings, Wright logged 28 minutes, thanks in part to Mahinmi's foul trouble limiting him to eight minutes. Wright finished with nine points, four rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Starter Brendan Haywood, coming off just 11 minutes at Memphis, played 17 against the Kings with 11 points and five rebounds.

3. Dirk's cool hand: Nowitzki has had two poor shooting games in a row, which might be of some concern if it wasn't for his five previous games of shooting 50 percent or better in four and one made bucket away from 50 percent in the other. On the other hand, Nowitzki has scored fewer than 20 points three times, including the last two. He was 5-of-16 for 17 points at Memphis and followed up Tuesday against the Kings by going 4-of-14 for 15 points.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Dalembert 6.8
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.2