No Defense

The Dallas Mavericks' lack of defense has led to a frustrating slump over the last few weeks.

Their misery could be extended if they can't find a way to contain the high-scoring Utah Jazz, who visit the American Airlines Center on Saturday.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Dallas -6 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 210 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 54% of bets for this game have been placed on Dallas -6 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Dallas (12-8) has dropped six of its last nine games, including a 122-109 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Thursday. It's more than halfway to last season's loss total of 15.

Dirk Nowitzki matched his season high with 32 points and 12 rebounds, while Jerry Stackhouse added 23 points off the bench.

The Mavericks' defense, however, struggled again, giving up a season high in points in the first quarter (39), and for the game. They also committed 18 turnovers that led to 18 Denver points and allowed the Nuggets to outscore them 64-36 in the paint.

"We just got to get everyone on the same page," said Devin Harris, who had 12 points. "A lot of guys making a lot of different mistakes, me included and we've got to make sure everyone knows their responsibilities."

During its current 3-6 stretch, Dallas' opponents are averaging 103.3 points, a sharp increase since its 9-2 start when the Mavericks were allowing just 95.9 points per game. The Mavs' scoring is also slightly down from 103.2 points to 101.7.

"Our defense is affecting our offense," said Harris, who is averaging 13.9 points for the season but has been held below 10 points in three of the last four games. "Hopefully these are growing pains we won't have later on. But this is fixable. It's all attitude. I'll bet money that (coach Avery Johnson) will make it better."

Nowitzki also figures things will turn around.

"We're looking forward to the rest of the season," he said, "because it can only get better on both ends of the floor."

On Saturday, the Mavericks face the league's fourth highest scoring team. The Jazz (13-7) are averaging 106.6 points per game, although they've lost two straight, including a 104-98 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday.

It was just the fifth time the Jazz were held below 100 points this season, although Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams had 28 points apiece and Ronnie Brewer added 14 points. Utah shot 54.2 percent from the field and led by as many as 11 points, but was shut down in the fourth quarter.

The Jazz allowed the Spurs to shoot 38 free throws just three days after letting Sacramento shoot 47 in a 117-107 loss to the Kings.

"Good thing it's still early in the season," said Boozer, who committed a season-high nine turnovers on Friday. "We're in an improving mind-set. We're going to continue to improve."

Utah, which won two of three against Dallas last season, hasn't lost three in a row since losing five straight in April.

The Jazz snapped that five-game slide with a 104-89 win on April 13 in their only trip to Dallas last season. The Mavs have won eight of their last 11 meetings, and seven of the last eight at home.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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