The Dallas Mavericks have looked nearly unstoppable on their way to the NBA’s best record this season, and their run of strong play may not end anytime soon.
The Mavericks look to extend multiple winning streaks when the Denver Nuggets come to town on Saturday.
Dallas (45-9) has put together several impressive runs this season and has dominated the final two opponents it will face on its three-game homestand. The Mavericks - who are 31-2 since Dec. 13 - beat Miami 112-100 on Thursday in the opener of the homestand for their 10th straight win overall and 18th in a row at home, extending the new franchise record.
Dirk Nowitzki had 31 points and 11 rebounds to help the Mavericks become just the fourth team in NBA history to have three winning streaks of at least 10 games in the same season. Dallas led by as many as 32 points in the fourth quarter and swept the two-game season series with the Heat, exacting some revenge for its NBA finals loss last June.
“Our first three quarters was some of the best basketball we have played all year,” Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. “We were vibrant and energized.”
One of the few concerns for the Mavericks was the absence of All-Star Josh Howard in the fourth quarter. He landed on the foot of Miami’s Jason Kapono and sprained his right ankle, though Johnson didn’t seem overly concerned about his status for Saturday.
“He should be OK. It is not one of the worst ones we have seen,” the Mavericks coach said of Howard, averaging 19.1 points and 7.2 rebounds. “That was the second or third time that has happened to him this year, so we will have to look out for that kind of stuff.”
Even if Howard can’t go, Dallas may not have problems with either Denver or Atlanta, which it faces Monday. The Mavericks - who are 25-3 at American Airlines Center this season - have won both meetings with the Nuggets this season and seven of the last eight between the teams. Dallas is 23-6 overall against Denver since the start of the decade and has won 17 of its last 18 at home against the Nuggets.
The Mavericks have also won 12 of 15 against the Hawks, including a 7-1 record in Dallas.
The Nuggets (26-27) limp into American Airlines Center after being routed in their last two contests, despite deceptive final scores. Denver trailed by 31 points entering the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s 95-80 loss to San Antonio, then lost 114-104 to Utah on Friday night in a game it trailed by as many as 21 points in the fourth.
Denver - which has lost three straight - is just 2-6 with both Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson in the lineup. Anthony had 36 against the Jazz while Iverson rebounded from a season-low nine points against the Spurs to score 33, but it wasn’t enough for the Nuggets, who played their first game without J.R. Smith.
Denver’s long-distance threat, Smith underwent surgery on Wednesday after tearing cartilage in his left knee against San Antonio and will be out for a month.
“We don’t have no chemistry right now,” Anthony said. “We’re just trying to get everybody on the same page. It seems like everybody’s in their own world right now. The chemistry off the court is very great, I can tell you that. That’s why I don’t understand why the chemistry on the court is not as great.”
The Nuggets have lost five of their last seven road games. They visit Memphis on Monday.