The Dallas Mavericks are quite comfortable with their players, who have produced the best record in the NBA.
While a former All-Star is now available, the Mavericks (29-8) will rely on their current roster as they try for a third straight victory in a matchup with the Indiana Pacers (20-16) on Friday night.
Chris Webber’s contract was bought out by Philadelphia on Thursday, and the 14-year veteran with career averages of 21.4 points and 10.0 rebounds has shown an interest in playing for Dallas, along with a few other teams.
“Obviously, he’s not the same player he was, but he’s still a very good passer and ball mover,” Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. “I played with him when he was Rookie of the Year. But we don’t want to go down that route right now. We’ll let it run its course and see what happens.”
Whether or not the Mavericks choose to sign Webber, they can be happy with their current club, which has bounced back to earn consecutive wins following a 101-98 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday that snapped its 13-winning streak.
Dallas beat Portland 99-74 on Wednesday, allowing its second-lowest point total of the season. The Mavericks have held their opponent to less than 100 points in 26 of the last 32 games, and they’re allowing only 91.8 points per game, one of the lowest figures in the NBA.
“This was our typical defensive performance,” Dallas forward Josh Howard said. “We hold ourselves accountable on both ends of the floor.”
Friday’s game marks the return of forward Austin Croshere to Indiana, where he played the first nine seasons of his career before being traded to Dallas in the offseason for Marquis Daniels. Croshere didn’t play in the Mavericks’ 100-91 home win over the Pacers on Jan. 4, but did have 13 points against the Blazers in his first action in five games.
“He was solid, he stroked the ball,” Johnson said. “He’s been a model citizen, always there for us in practice. He’ll practice hard, work hard. He’s been good.”
The Pacers have won three straight since that loss in Dallas, including a 97-84 victory over Boston on Wednesday night. It’s their first three-game winning streak of the season after they had won consecutive games seven times in 2006-07, only to lose the next contest.
Indiana scored 13 straight points late in the game to answer a 14-0 Boston run that had pulled the Celtics to within four.
“It was a great sign that we withheld from going in the tank when those guys made their run,” said Pacers center Jermaine O’Neal, who scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half. “I think it was a great sign, but we still have a lot of work to do to establish ourself as a competitive team.”
After starting out 8-2 at home, the Pacers have won only two of their last five games at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Dallas has won the last three meetings in the series, but the Pacers have dominated at home, winning 11 of the past 14 matchups in Indianapolis.