DALLAS -- Don’t expect Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle’s coaching seat to get hot, but assistant coach Monte Mathis did a solid job stepping up in Carlisle's absence due to illness.
With a 106-93 victory Saturday over the Milwaukee Bucks, Mathis can now say he’s undefeated as an NBA head coach. He’s also accomplished something that not even Carlisle has done this season: coach the Mavericks to a 34-point lead in a game. The previous high mark for a lead this season was 30, against the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 5. Milwaukee made a run in the fourth quarter, but Dallas did enough to secure Mathis’ first victory.
"It feels pretty good," Mathis said after the game about his first win. "You shake [Carlisle’s] hand with a smile now when he comes back."
Mathis is known as the defensive coordinator for the team, but leading a team to a 106-point performance without Dirk Nowitzki will turn some heads. Shawn Marion, who had his fifth double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds, was surprised to see what Mathis had up his sleeve on the offensive end of the floor.
"I was actually impressed," Marion said. "He was drawing up some good plays in the timeout. I was like, 'Where the f--- have these plays been at? He was drawing some good s---!"
Carter the trigger man: Whether it coincides with the return of Brandan Wright or not, Vince Carter had a strong performance off the bench. Carter recorded 15 points to go along with 6 rebounds and a season-high 9 assists. His previous season high was five, against the Houston Rockets on Nov. 20. The nine assists mark the most he’s had in a Mavericks uniform.
"Is that the most of your career?" DeJuan Blair cackled from the locker next to Carter.
Carter: "Negative." He went on to explain the genesis of the bounce-back night for him.
"When a guy the caliber of Dirk goes down, everybody has to really step it up and bring it," Carter said. "I just wanted to bring that energy off the bench."
DNP-CD for Sammy D: Saturday was the first "Did Not Play -- Coach’s Decision" of the season for Samuel Dalembert. With all the centers healthy and Dallas holding a comfortable lead, Mathis decided it was best to not bring Dalembert into the game.
"Going into it, it wasn’t set that Sam wasn’t going to play, but it just ended up being that way," Mathis said.
Though he didn’t log any minutes on the floor during the game, Dalembert stayed after the game for some cardio and will come to the arena on the team’s day off Sunday to get extra work in.