The Mavs will be playing for the third time in four days, and conclude the rough stretch with another game Saturday at home against Minnesota. They don’t get more than one day of rest between games until having next Thursday and Friday off.
Dallas appeared tired Wednesday in losing 91-78 to the Timberwolves in its second game in two nights. The point total was a season low for the Mavericks, who shot 37.2 percent from the floor.
“Nobody had a lot of energy out there, and we were going through the motions,” said Dirk Nowitzki, who had a team-high 23 points for Dallas. “That’s not good enough to win on the road.”
Despite the ugly loss, the Mavericks have won 13 of 17 to give them the second-best record in the Western Conference—and earning them some extra attention from opponents of late.
“They’re paying attention to the whole team,” forward Josh Howard said about the Timberwolves. “They’re scouting every single play we’ve carved out. You can hear their bench yelling out the play and what’s going to happen. Not really much we can say about that. We’ve just got to continue to show up every night and be ready to play.”
Howard had 14 points in the win and is averaging 15.3 per game. Since returning from an ankle injury at the end of November, he’s posted four double-doubles and has scored more than 20 points in five of his 12 games.
“I’m trying to stress to our team, we’re on the radar now,” Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. “There is no hiding now. People know who Marquis Daniels and Josh Howard are, they know who you are now. There is no secrecy, so we have to come out and be ready to play now.”
Daniels has gone through a rough stretch since spraining his neck at the end of December. Before the injury, he was averaging 13.0 points and 3.1 assists, but since getting hurt he’s only played in five of the last 10 games and is averaging 8.8 points.
The Nuggets have struggled with injuries for most of the season, but have won two straight. Their latest victory came Wednesday over Indiana, 106-86.
Denver is still playing without center Marcus Camby, one of the NBA’s leading rebounders who broke his finger at the end of December.
Reserve guard Earl Boykins has scored in double figures in four of the last five games. Against the Pacers he had 23 points, 12 of which came during a 15-2 Nuggets run in the second quarter.
“I can’t sum up what Boykins means to this team,” Carmelo Anthony said. “He’s the one that keeps us going. He brings so much energy and intensity out on the court.”
The Nuggets have lost the last three meetings with the Mavericks.