The Dallas Mavericks picked a bad time for a rare slump.
They’ll look to snap their longest losing streak of the season when they host the Denver Nuggets.
The Mavericks lost 108-99 to the Orlando Magic on Friday for their third straight defeat. Dallas had lost consecutive games only once this season, falling Nov. 29 at Milwaukee and Dec. 1 against San Antonio.
“Right now we are going through a little something, and I have never seen a team not go through something during the season,” Mavericks guard Darrell Armstrong said. “Some teams find a way to get out of it, and some teams don’t. Now it is time for us to get out of it.”
The Mavericks trail the first-place Spurs by three games in the Southwest Division. The two are also battling for the best record in the Western Conference, but since the three division winners will get the top three seeds in the playoffs, the second-place finisher will be seeded fourth.
“We are going back home, and we have a big game because Denver is playing really good basketball,” Armstrong said. “It is going to be a challenge because we need a win.”
Dirk Nowitzki had 38 points and 15 rebounds for Dallas, which wrapped up a 1-3 road trip and has lost five of seven overall. Josh Howard started his first game after missing the last nine with a strained hamstring, and had 10 points and five rebounds.
“We played a short stretch there in the fourth quarter a little bit,” coach Avery Johnson said. “But other than that we didn’t play well at all again tonight, and that’s what concerns me.”
Swingman Adrian Griffin did not play because of a strained right hamstring, and guard Devin Harris sat out with a strained left quadriceps. Center DJ Mbenga also sat out after being suspended one game without pay by the league for committing a flagrant foul against Cleveland’s LeBron James.
The Nuggets are six games ahead of the second-place Utah Jazz in the Northwest Division with nine games left. They beat Minnesota 106-94 on Friday to snap a two game losing streak.
Carmelo Anthony scored 32 points and Andre Miller added 16 for Denver, which has not won a division title since 1987-88. Anthony scored 30 or more points 10 times in March, including eight of the last 10 games.
Denver was sluggish through most of the first three quarters, but Miller’s block late in the third sparked a 7-0 run that continued through the final period.
“That’s the kind of energy we would like to have going into the last nine games of the season,” Anthony said. “We needed momentum after losing two games in a row before tonight.”
Forward Eduardo Najera, who played three minutes in Wednesday’s loss to Utah after missing the previous four games with soreness in his right knee, missed Friday’s game with the injury.