In a Funk

Dirk Nowitzki's shooting skills have helped the Dallas Mavericks forward earn a reputation as one of the NBA's most efficient superstars. Early this season, though, Nowitzki hasn't lived up to that distinction.

Nowitzki looks to snap out of a rare shooting funk as the Mavericks (4-2) try to rebound from an ugly loss with a home matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers (2-4) on Tuesday.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Dallas -12 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 190.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 82% of bets for this game have been placed on Dallas -12 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Nowitzki has set career highs in field-goal percentage in each of the last two seasons, finishing 2006-07 at 50.2. Of the 11 players in the league that took at least 1,250 shots, he was the only one to shoot better than 50.0 percent.

This season, however, he's shooting 43.8 percent - his lowest mark since his rookie season of 1998-99. He's 5-for-18 from 3-point range (27.8 percent) after connecting on a career-high 41.6 percent of his shots from behind the arc in 2006-07.

On Saturday, Nowitzki was 4-for-13 from the field as Dallas lost 91-82 at Portland. He's 17-for-48 (35.4) in his last three games.

Nowitzki wasn't the only Mavericks player to struggle on Saturday, however. After entering the game shooting 57.8 percent, Josh Howard went 5-for-15. Jason Terry, shooting 59.7 before the defeat, led Dallas with six field goals, but also missed eight as the Mavs shot 35.4 percent.

"We missed a lot of shots," Howard said. "I don't think we could buy a basket tonight."

It was the Mavericks' worst shooting effort since a Jan. 25 loss at Chicago last season, and just their third time below 36.0 percent since the beginning of the 2005-06 season.

"We just didn't have it tonight," Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. "The other team was better. We can't just show up and expect to win. We need our hard hats on and our thinking caps on every night and we just didn't have it tonight."

Dallas will look to rebound at the American Airlines Center, where it posted the league's best home record at 36-5 last season. The Mavericks have won their first two home games by a combined 30 points while shooting 55.5 percent.

Like the Mavericks, the 76ers are coming off a sloppy loss. They capped a 1-3 homestand with a 93-72 defeat to New Orleans on Sunday, getting outscored 54-30 in the second and third quarters.

"The way we're going to win games is going to be on the effort side and certainly what I mentioned to them is the way we have to play, we have to outwork everyone," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "When our offense is not up to par and our defense is not up to par we're gonna have a hard time winning."

The 76ers are looking to Andre Iguodala to make a big leap in his first full season playing without former teammate Allen Iverson. Iguodala is shooting 50.0 percent from the field and scored 23 and 22 points in his first two games, but has been held under 20 points in three of his last four contests, although he had a season-high 26 against Toronto on Friday.

"We didn't have that energy that we needed tonight," Iguodala said Sunday. "Guys didn't really turn it up. It was always one level. It was at a five and we needed it to be at a 10."

Iguodala and the 76ers will likely need a stronger effort against Dallas, which has won the last three games in the series, including both meetings last season by a combined 31 points. Nowitzki averaged 18.5 points while shooting 43.8 percent in the sweep.

By: Marc Young - - Email Us

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