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Friday, February 17, 2012
No Tyson Chandler, but Brendan Haywood steps up

By Jeff Caplan

That the Dallas Mavericks rank in the top five in three critical NBA defensive categories -- opponent field goal percentage, points per game and defensive efficiency -- defies logic.

That the Mavs shared the top spot in opponent field goal percentage with the Los Angeles Lakers entering Thursday night's games goes against all reason.

That this Dallas defense owns the franchise record of 15 consecutive games of holding an opponent under 100 points and takes a second nine-game streak into Friday's game at the Philadelphia 76ers is almost as mind-blowing as Linsanity itself.

Because when Tyson Chandler walked out the door, the Mavs were supposed to walk off the defensive cliff. Yet this remade reigning champion, with the ultraversatile Shawn Marion trumpeting the charge and last season's backseat center Brendan Haywood anchoring the paint, is proving that you don't have to throw out the culture with the culture-changer.

To read the full column, click here.