Gil LeBreton

Mavericks’ depth is going to be a nice ‘problem’

On the one hand, you could say that sending the Utah Jazz here, after playing in Houston only 24 hours ago, was the Mavericks’ easiest layup of the night.

But, no, there actually turned out to be lots of easy layups and head-rattling dunks for the Dallas Mavericks on this first night of their NBA home schedule.

Coach Rick Carlisle attributed the offensive side of his team’s 120-102 victory Thursday to “good spacing,” and he was mostly right. More accurately, though, the Mavericks rained baskets on the outmanned Jazz both in close quarters and from distant corners.

The Mavericks scored on their first nine trips down the floor, and the night’s tenor was set. With three minutes to play in the first half, Carlisle had already mostly cleared his bench, and the Mavericks were running away with things 65-35.

Afterward, Carlisle graciously made public note of what the NBA schedule-makers did to Utah.

“Hey, we played a team that was on the second night of a back-to-back,” Carlisle said. “They were tired.”

The NBA returns the favor next week, he pointed out.

“We have to play these guys again a week from tonight in Utah on the second night of a back-to-back,” Carlisle said. “And it’s always a meat grinder when you play them because they play so hard.”

A meat grinder it was Thursday, but it was the Mavericks, talented and deep, who did the grinding.

Seven Mavericks scored in double figures, led by Dirk Nowitzki and newcomer Chandler Parsons, who each scored 21. Two players who didn’t reach double digits, Jameer Nelson and J.J. Barea, combined for eight assists.

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None of the Mavericks starters played as many as 30 minutes, as Carlisle’s team got major bench contributions from Barea, Devin Harris, Al-Farouq Aminu and Brandan Wright.

Carlisle wasted no time in thrusting Barea back onto the floor after his three-year sojourn to Minnesota.

“I thought he played well for a guy who just basically showed up today,” Carlisle said. “He’s in good shape. We’re fortunate to get him back.”

Barea’s return to Dallas appears to speak volumes about the kind of title contender the organization feels it has assembled this season. To make room for the veteran Barea, the Mavericks had to waive Gal Mekel, who appeared to be blossoming into a solid, young NBA player.

If there are minutes in the backcourt to be handed out, however, Carlisle likely favors giving them to a seasoned, one-time-champion veteran rather than a youngster.

Barea entered Thursday’s game before the first quarter was done. The crowd of 19,697 at American Airlines Center roared its welcome.

But there was much to cheer about on this opening night. Parsons, after a shaky 2-for-10 shooting night Tuesday in San Antonio, gave the audience a 21-point, 7-rebound taste of his versatile, slashing game. Nowitzki, forgotten in the Tuesday loss, set the pace in Thursday’s first-quarter blitz.

The game wasn’t even three minutes old when Utah called a much-needed timeout with the Mavericks already rolling 11-4. The video board captured the other homecoming Maverick, Tyson Chandler, spreading his arms and letting out a loud roar.

The Jazz encountered bad matchups all over the floor. But part of that was because of the Mavericks’ suddenly deep bench. Aminu, acquired from New Orleans, is going to be interesting to watch. Harris seems healthy again.

“We’re going to need balance,” Carlisle said. “We’re going to need a lot of guys to contribute.

“I just have to keep everybody as involved as possible, and keep our energy and competitive level really high.”

That’s not a problem, of course. That sounds more like a game plan.

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