Dallas has lost three of four since reeling off a season-high seven straight wins from Nov. 11-25. None of those defeats was quite as painful as Thursday’s 92-90 home setback to the San Antonio Spurs.
“I had a good look at it. Give Bruce credit,” Nowitzki said. “Every time I touched it, a big guy ran at me. Both teams made an effort not to let the other team’s main guy beat them.”
The Hornets probably won’t be feeling too sorry for the Mavericks, a team that has beaten them 14 straight times since a 104-99 victory when they were still located in Charlotte. Dallas was dominant in sweeping four games from New Orleans last season, outscoring the Hornets by an average of 11.0 points per contest.
The Mavericks didn’t have it quite as easy in their first meeting with the Hornets this season in Oklahoma City, Okla.—New Orleans’ alternate home due to the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Dallas took a big early lead, but had to hold off a late Hornets rally before escaping with a 109-103 victory on Nov. 12.
The Mavericks also got their first look at rookie sensation Chris Paul, who led the Hornets with 26 points on 10-of-12 shooting.
New Orleans, which managed just 18 wins all of last season, climbed above .500 on Friday with an 88-86 victory over visiting Philadelphia. David West scored 22 points, including the go-ahead layup with under a minute remaining, as the Hornets won for the sixth time in eight games.
“We really don’t have anything to lose,” West said. “I think all of the pressure’s on every team that plays us. We don’t feel any pressure.”
After averaging 12.9 points in New Orleans’ first seven games, West is averaging 18.8 over the past eight.
“Teams feel like they have wins against us,” West said. “Teams see us on the schedule and think, ‘This is a win.”’
Paul had 16 points and nine assists for New Orleans, which will play five of its next six games on the road.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 2): Hornets - 4th place, 4 GB, Southwest Division. Mavericks - 3rd place, 2 GB, Southwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Hornets - Paul, 16.4 ppg and 6.8 apg; Brown, 8.3 rpg. Mavericks - Nowitzki, 24.3 ppg and 9.0 rpg; Terry, 3.9 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Mavericks, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 12; Mavericks, 109-103. At Oklahoma City, Okla., Nowitzki scored 30 points and Terry added a season-high 26 for Dallas.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hornets - 4-4 on the road; Mavericks - 5-2 at home.