NBA Basketball: New Jersey Nets at Dallas Mavericks - Mavericks Favored
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The Dallas Mavericks haven't suffered a loss in more than five weeks, but they haven't displayed their normal swagger their last two times out.
The Mavericks look to extend their franchise-record winning streak to 16 games when they host the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday.
Dallas (50-9) became the sixth-fastest team in NBA history to reach 50 wins with its 103-98 victory over Orlando on Saturday. The win was the Mavs' 15th in a row, which broke the old club record set Oct. 30-Nov. 27, 2002.
"Having a record is always great," Dirk Nowitzki said. "It means you've done something that's never been done before. But we're not focused on the streaks. If we go 82-0, it doesn't mean anything if we don't win the championship. We know we have a lot of work to do until then."
After narrowly escaping with a 95-92 win over Cleveland on Thursday, Saturday's game wasn't decided until the final minutes. The Magic had the ball and trailed by just three points with 28 seconds left before Nowitzki came up with a crucial steal and added a 17-footer with 7.9 seconds left.
"This was one of the toughest of the year," Jason Terry said. "Our energy wasn't where it needed to be, but in the fourth quarter, we came alive. It didn't look like we'd pull this off, but everybody dug deep."
The Mavericks, who have already clinched a playoff spot, will be facing a Nets team they have won 12 of their last 13 against. Dallas defeated New Jersey 92-75 on Dec. 5 as it held the Nets (28-32) to 35.1 percent shooting, including just 2-for-12 from 3-point range.
The Mavericks are 36-2 since Dec. 13 and have won 50 of 55 after losing their first four games of the season. Dallas has won 22 straight at home since a 92-82 loss to Detroit on Dec. 7.
Nowitzki had 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists on Saturday, and is averaging 28.0 points, 10.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists in his last eight games. The six-time All-Star had 26 points and 13 rebounds against the Nets in December, and is averaging 25.8 points and 9.2 boards in his last 13 games against them.
Terry had 29 points and a season-high 15 assists against the Magic, and is averaging 22.0 points - 5.9 better than his season average - in his last four games.
The Nets, who are fighting for one of the last few playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, lost 99-86 to Philadelphia on Sunday. It was their second straight defeat following a three-game winning streak.
New Jersey blew a 17-point first-quarter lead on Sunday after squandering an 11-point advantage with less than four minutes to play in Saturday's 96-88 overtime loss to Boston.
"We haven't shot ourselves in the foot yet, but we let two opportunities go by," said Jason Kidd, who posted his 85th career triple-double with 11 points, 14 assists and 14 rebounds against the 76ers. "It's never the right time to lose. Right now, we're running out of games."
Vince Carter had just nine points and missed his final 14 shots Sunday. He had 20 points on 6-of-19 shooting against the Mavericks in December, and is averaging 21.5 points on just 36.8 percent shooting in his last six games against them.
"We're still in the hunt," Carter said. "We'll be in the playoffs. But this isn't the way to do it."
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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