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Mavs stay hot at home with win over Hornets

DALLAS -- Even without Jason Kidd in the lineup and Dirk Nowitzki having another bad shooting night, Dallas had no problem
against the depleted New Orleans Hornets.

Vince Carter and Ian Mahinmi each had 13 points to lead six
Mavericks in double figures in a 96-81 victory Saturday night for
their fourth consecutive home victory.

"This is kind of the defining characteristic of this season,"
coach Rick Carlisle said. "Depth is king, energy trumps
everything."

Nowitzki got in foul trouble early, with two in the first 4
minutes. He was only 2 of 11 from the field for 10 points in 30
minutes against the Hornets, who lost their sixth consecutive game.

"It's a win. When you're struggling like we are, the only thing
you can take out of this is that it's a win," said Nowitzki, the
MVP of last season's NBA Finals. "I've got to keep working. I'm
not there yet. I had shots. I've got to make them."

Despite the winning streak at home, Dallas has had a couple of
lopsided road losses during that same stretch. The Mavericks were
coming off a 93-71 loss at San Antonio on Thursday night, when they
made only 1 of 19 shots from 3-point range. Nowitzki went 3 for 11
and had just six points in that loss.

"I hope he keeps getting those looks," Carlisle said. "He's
going to get there."

Carter started for the first time since the opener with Kidd out
because of a lower back injury. He and Mahinmi both played well
during important stretches for Dallas.

Plus, 11 different Mavericks had already scored by halftime.

Delonte West and Jason Terry both finished with 12 points, while
Roddy Beaubois had 11 for the defending NBA champions.

Al-Farouq Aminu had 15 points and 12 rebounds to lead New
Orleans, which was without three players who are in its regular
rotation. Post player Jason Smith missed the game to be with his
family after the death of his grandmother Friday night. Guard Eric Gordon (bruised right knee) and forward Trevor Ariza (groin strain)
were also out.

The Hornets played their second of three games in four days.
They lost at home against the Nuggets on Friday, and play in Denver
on Monday.

"It's difficult. It's part of the season, part of the grind.
Guys have injuries, personal problems, to deal with. We just came
up short," said Hornets guard Jarrett Jack, who had 13 points.

"Getting healthy is part of it. We need to get back our nucleus
and get back on track. I'm not going to make excuses. We've got to
learn as we go."

The Mavericks extended their lead to 50-36 when Carter was
involved in all the points of a 7-0 run in just over 1 1/2 minutes
late in the first half. Carter had a steal that led to Terry's
16-foot pull-up jumper. After Carter rebounded a Hornets miss, he
passed the ball to Shawn Marion for an alley-oop pass to Brandan
Wright while being fouled. Wright added the free throw.

"Just playing within the flow of the offense," Carter said.
"We're a very unselfish team."

That spurt ended when Carter took a step around Marco Belinelli
and exploded along the baseline for a monster one-handed dunk to
make it 50-36.

"He surprised everybody with that," Brendan Haywood said. "We
need that excitement."

Even after missing 10 consecutive shots in the third quarter,
Dallas still had a 10-point lead. New Orleans never got closer.

Beaubois ended that shooting drought with a long jumper with
5:44 left in the third quarter. He then had a steal and a pass to
Marion for a slam dunk that made it 68-54.

There were nine lead changes and five ties in the first 7 1/2
minutes before Odom tipped in his own missed layup to break a
16-all tie. The Mavs led the rest of the way, and pushed in front
26-20 by the end of the first after Mahinmi had an impressive
2-minute surge.

Terry had an alley-oop pass to Mahinmi, who scored again after
getting a pass from Marion. Terry then lost control of the ball,
which was pulled in by Mahinmi on the floor, who gave it back to
Terry for a 12-foot bank shot.

"Ian's a good example of what's important this year," Carlisle
said. "He's energetic and involved in every play."

Game notes
Kidd will miss at least two more games. Carlisle said the
team doesn't think the injury is serious but will "err on the side
of caution" with the 38-year-old Kidd, who left late in the first
quarter of Thursday's game at San Antonio. ... Gordon missed his
second consecutive game and sixth of seven since the Hornets
opener. ... Both teams played the fifth of 18 scheduled games in
January. ... Chris Kaman and Jack both got called for technical
fouls during the same sequence. Kaman was his reaction to being
called for a foul, and Jack had a few words with officials as well.
Carter hit both free throws for being fouled by Kaman, and Nowitzki
made both technical free throws.