DALLAS – When former Maverick guard DeShawn Stevenson got hot, he’d say he couldn’t feel his face, doing a little hand gesture to drive home the point.
Jose Calderon wishes that was really the case for him.
His face still hurts like heck after getting whacked by a wild forearm from Brooklyn’s Mason Plumlee the other night, which sidelined Calderon for all but 45 seconds of that loss. But Calderon came back hot, turning in a terrific performance in Tuesday night’s overtime win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Playing with a chipped bone between his teeth and nose, Calderon scored 22 points and dished out eight assists in the Mavs’ most important victory so far this season. He was 7-of-10 from the floor and 6-of-9 from 3-point range, including a triple that tied the score in the final minute of overtime.
“I knew it was nothing,” Calderon said of his injury. “It’s going to be uncomfortable for a few weeks. I can play. There’s nothing it’s going to keep me from doing. It was a great game for us. It’s one of those games we needed to get, so I’m really proud of my teammates.”
Calderon’s shooting was obviously critical to the Mavs’ chances of beating the Thunder for the second time in 10 days. Coach Rick Carlisle pointed to a stretch in the second quarter, when the Thunder took a six-point lead and Calderon knocked down a couple of 3s and dished to Shawn Marion for a dunk, as an especially important point of the game that might get overlooked.
But Calderon, who is woefully overmatched athletically by OKC’s Russell Westbrook, also did a decent job defensively. Westbrook had 23 points and eight assists, but he shot only 8-of-18 from the floor and committed eight turnovers, including a high-speed charge Calderon took fearlessly despite his facial injury.
“He’s been a gamer all year,” Carlisle said of Calderon, one of the highest compliments a coach can give a player.