Mavericks-Jazz Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 06, 2013
Coach Rick Carlisle feels the Dallas Mavericks have bottomed out. Dirk Nowitzki thinks his own situation is a work in progress. Following their 11th defeat in 13 games, Carlisle and the Mavericks are hoping Nowitzki can help them turn things around Monday night against the host Utah Jazz. Dallas (13-21) is only two seasons removed from winning its first NBA title, and it has reached the playoffs 12 years in a row. The Mavericks are struggling to replicate their recent success in 2012-13, though, and things only seemed bleaker following Saturday's 99-96 overtime defeat at home to New Orleans, the team with the worst record in the Western Conference. "It feels like (rock bottom). Yeah, it feels like it. I still believe in the team and I like the guys," Carlisle said. "This is just a tough time and it's important that everybody sticks together and we've got to fight through it." Having a healthy Nowitzki would surely help, too. The 11-time All-Star made his return to the starting lineup Saturday, scoring 20 points with six rebounds in 34 minutes. He was averaging 10.0 points and 4.3 boards as a reserve over the previous six games after missing the first 27 recovering from arthroscopic right knee surgery. "Obviously, I'm not quite there yet, it's still a work in progress, especially playing 30 minutes and then being asked to get the ball down the stretch every time and make something happen, I don't think I'm at that point yet," Nowitzki said. "But I'm going to keep working on going in the right direction and turn it around, pull some of those close games out and get some of those wins." Dallas could certainly use that since it's lost 10 consecutive games that have reached overtime, matching an NBA record held by three other teams. Seven of those defeats have come this season - five in the past 13 games. Another one happened at Utah (17-18) on April 16, when Nowitzki scored 40 points in a 123-121 triple-OT loss. The Mavs, who are opening a three-game trip, didn't fare well in their most recent visit to Salt Lake City on Oct. 31, falling 113-94 while shooting 37.6 percent from the floor. They're 5-14 on the road, losing seven of eight while surrendering 108.9 points per game. The Jazz have dropped eight of 12 overall, but they're making a brief stop at home, where they are 10-4 while averaging 101.6 points. Utah will try to continue that success while bouncing back from its worst shooting performance of the season, making 35.9 percent from the field and committing 19 turnovers in a 110-91 loss at Denver on Saturday. Al Jefferson was one of the major culprits, hitting just 4 of 13 shots and finishing with 12 points. The center may be looking forward to a return home, where he averages 19.9 points compared to 14.9 on the road, but he scored only 12 on 4-of-11 shooting against Dallas in October. Marvin Williams had 21 points in that meeting, but he is averaging just 5.8 and shooting 32.5 percent in his last six games overall. Dallas' O.J. Mayo is looking to bounce back from a rough performance. He scored 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting against the Hornets, three days after putting up 30 in a 119-109 OT loss at Miami.
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