The Hornets enter the matchup with the Mavs on a four-game winning streak, something they didn’t do all last season.
Veterans Rozier and Gordon Hayward, who were part of deep playoff runs with the Boston Celtics, don’t want a morsel of success morphing into complacency on a young roster.
At 6-5, the Hornets were tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference with the Orlando Magic. When asked about the possibility of breaking a four-season playoff drought, Rozier sounded an alarm Tuesday.
“If we worry about down-the-road, then we won’t take care of tomorrow. And that’s going to hurt us,” Rozier said. “It’s (up) to guys like myself to make sure guys stay in that mindset: Don’t worry about the playoffs.”
Hayward, the Hornets’ impact free agent acquisition, dominated Monday’s victory over the New York Knicks with 28 first-half points. He said that was a classic trap game: The Knicks playing for the second consecutive night, while the Hornets were off Sunday and riding a winning streak.
It was the sort of opportunity the Hornets would squander in the past.
“It’s something where (you see) the Knicks are on the second game of a back-to-back, and maybe you play kind of lackadaisical — you don’t come out and be aggressive,” Hayward said.
Maybe the most pleasant surprise of the Hornets’ early season is team defense: The Hornets are eighth among 30 teams, allowing 1.046 points per opponent possession.
That is a dramatic improvement from last season, when Charlotte was 24th, allowing 1.099 points per opponent possession.