Utah (40-39) at Dallas (59-21)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Dallas, TX
Temp: 81° F
  • Game info: 8:30 pm EDT Sun Apr 16, 2006
  • TV: KJZZ
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Dallas Mavericks need a victory to stay in the race for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, while the Utah Jazz have to continue winning if they want to reach the playoffs.

The Mavericks look to avoid a third straight loss when they host the surging Jazz.

Dallas trails San Antonio by 1 1/2 games for the best record in the West, and needs to win this contest and have the Spurs lose to Minnesota on Sunday to stay in the hunt for the top spot in the conference.

If Dallas loses or San Antonio wins, the Mavericks would slide to the No. 4 spot in the West.

Dallas lost its second straight on Thursday, 117-104 to Pacific Division-champion Phoenix.

“Our season is not over because of two disappointing losses,” Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. “We pretty much know where we’re going to finish now. The only thing that really matters for us is to get guys healthy mentally and physically.

“We’ll continue to try to do that and hopefully when we lace them up Sunday we’ll be ready to play.”

The Mavericks have two games left to try and tie the franchise record for wins in a season, set by the 2002-03 team that earned 60 victories.

Dallas has won 22 of its last 24 home games, and has won six straight over the Jazz at American Airlines Center. Utah, though, is playing some of its best basketball of the season.

The Jazz have won a season high-tying five straight to pull within 1 1/2 games of Sacramento for the final playoff spot in the West. Utah hasn’t won six in a row since March 2003.

“(The streak) keeps us alive. Otherwise, we’re probably dead,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. “It’s pretty simple. It’s just like anybody. We’d like to stay alive a little longer.”

The Jazz beat New Orleans 105-104 on Friday to move above .500 for the first time since Jan. 20.

“We’re still in it,” rookie guard Deron Williams said. “We haven’t been eliminated yet. We’ve just got to keep fighting.”

The Jazz are outscoring their opponents by 9.8 points during their win streak, and are shooting 40.3 percent from 3-point range while holding their opponents to 25.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

Carlos Boozer scored 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting Friday, and is averaging 24.3 points on 62.5 percent shooting in his last three games.

STANDINGS (through April 14): Jazz - 2nd place, 3 1/2 GB, Northwest Division. Mavericks - 2nd place, 1 1/2 GB, Southwest Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Jazz - F Andrei Kirilenko, F Boozer, C Mehmet Okur, G Williams, G Matt Harpring. Mavericks - F Dirk Nowitzki, F Josh Howard, C DJ Mbenga, G Adrian Griffin, G Jason Terry.

TEAM LEADERS: Jazz - Okur, 17.9 ppg and 9.2 rpg; Kirilenko, 4.4 apg. Mavericks - Nowitzki, 26.6 ppg and 9.0 rpg; Terry, 3.8 apg.

SEASON SERIES: Mavericks, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: March 11; Mavericks, 90-87. At Salt Lake City, Nowitzki scored 34 points, including 12 in a decisive stretch of the fourth quarter, and also had nine rebounds and five assists.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Jazz - 19-20 on the road; Mavericks - 33-6 at home.

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