DALLAS – Coach Rick Carlisle called it a “vintage game” for Elton Brand.
That was meant as a compliment, but the 14-year veteran wasn’t flattered.
Brand has had his struggles this season, but he doesn’t think the 17 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks he had in Saturday’s win over the Pistons should be considered a surprise. Those all at least match season highs, but Brand expects many more nights like this in a Mavs uniform.
“Nah, that’s not vintage,” said Brand, who was averaging 6.2 points and 6.0 rebounds entering the game. “Not even close. That’s what I can do. That’s where I’m at right now.
“With the opportunity and the looks, I’m still right there. I can do that every night – most nights – with those opportunities.”
By opportunities, Brand means shots and minutes. They were both tough to come by for Brand in the first month of the season.
The 12 shots Brand attempted against Detroit, eight of which he made, were the most he’s had as a Maverick. The 28 minutes marked his third heaviest workload of the season.
“It was really a big-time effort when we really needed it most,” Carlisle said. “His effort was enormous.”
Brand, who had seasons averaging as many as 24.7 points and 11.6 rebounds earlier in his career, understands those opportunities must be earned. And he acknowledges his performance earlier this season didn’t merit more opportunities.
But Brand, who had 17 points and eight rebounds in last week’s loss to the 76ers, believes he’s still plenty capable of playing a key role for a playoff team.
“I’m not like a punch-drunk boxer or anything,” Brand said. “That’s just how I feel. I can help us, man. That’s how I feel. I can help us.”
A few more notes from the Mavs’ three-game skid-snapping win:
1. Welcome back, O.J.: O.J. Mayo’s first real slump of the season is officially over.
Mayo busted out with 24 of his game-high 27 points in the second half. That included a flurry of 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting to carry the Mavs to a momentum-seizing 17-4 run in the third quarter.
It had been a rough week for Mayo, who was hampered by two twisted ankles by averaging only 9.3 points on 11-of-34 shooting during the Mavs’ three-game losing streak. Those struggles continued in the first half against the Pistons, when Mayo was scoreless until an and-1 finger roll fell with 1:33 remaining in the second quarter.
“Tonight was all about being aggressive, man,” said Mayo, who bumped his scoring average above 20 points per game again with his second-half explosion. “I thought I wasn’t as aggressive as I should have been in the first half.
“It’s a little different with the defensive coverages for me now, so I have to be patient and pick and choose when it’s a good time for me to be aggressive so it doesn’t seem like I’m just out there jacking up some shots. I’ve just got to continue playing hard on both end of the floor and hopefully it’ll break through like it did tonight.”
2. Crowder struggles as starter: Rookie second-round pick Jae Crowder got the start as an undersized power forward because Carlisle wants a perimeter shooting threat at that position. It didn’t pay off in this game.
The 6-foot-6 Crowder finished with four points on 1-of-8 shooting, four rebounds and three turnovers in 30 minutes. He missed all four of his 3-point attempts.
It continued a trend of Crowder being much more effective off the bench than as a starter. He has averaged 4.3 points on 28.6 percent shooting in seven starts, compared to 8.7 points on 52.7 percent shooting in nine reserve appearances.
3. Roddy B. as in bench: So much for the third annual Rodrigue Beaubois breakout season. He’s now the Mavs’ fourth-string point guard in his fourth NBA season.
Beaubois was the odd man out with the arrival of Derek Fisher, made inactive with rookie Jared Cunningham dressing but not playing against the Pistons. Beaubois had been a DNP-CD in three of the previous six games.