The Charlotte Hornets are fresh off a victory because of a defensive stop on the game’s final possession.
They’ll likely need more of that kind of defense against the host Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night.
The Mavericks are coming off their first loss of the season, returning home from Denver following a 125-114 setback Friday night. Dallas won its first four games of the regular season — three by single-digit margins.
The status of Mavericks coach Jason Kidd could be in question after he missed the loss because of a non-COVID illness. Assistant coach Sean Sweeney filled in as acting head coach.
The Hornets will vie for road wins on back-to-back nights after holding off the Indiana Pacers 125-124 on Saturday. Center Mark Williams scored a career-high 27 points, while Charlotte also benefited from Gordon Hayward’s season-best 23.
Just to show how things lined up for the Hornets, they made 23 of 23 free throws to come within one of the franchise record for most made foul shots without a miss in a game.
Charlotte likely will be shorthanded because guard Terry Rozier left in the fourth quarter Saturday night with a groin injury.
Luka Doncic has led the Mavericks in scoring and rebounding in four of the team’s games this season and has the team’s top assist total in every contest. He’s the NBA scoring leader with 33.8 points per game and is 12th in rebounding at 10.4 per outing.
Charlotte guard LaMelo Ball is eighth in the league with 8.6 assists per game.
The Hornets should be concerned that they’ve allowed an average of 120.5 points per game. The Mavericks average 120.8 per outing.
Clifford said the Hornets had their best first-half performance of the season in Saturday night’s game.
Despite a season-high team point total, the Hornets want to smoothe over some areas. They were 8-for-20 on 3-point attempts.
The Hornets and Mavericks have had first-quarter defensive issues in games early this season.
Sunday’s contest will be a wrap on Charlotte’s three-game road stretch and a chance for the team’s first back-to-back victories of the season.
The Mavericks have won 42 of 65 all-time meetings with the Hornets. Yet Charlotte has won the last three, including both games of a home-and-home set last March. Doncic had 34 and 40 points in those losses. The Hornets might try to get Williams more involved coming off his big game in Indianapolis. He averaged 14 points for the two meetings last season with Dallas.