While every NBA team suffers losing streaks during the grueling 82-game season, they tend to get magnified when it’s the Dallas Mavericks doing the losing.
The Mavs look to avoid their first three-game skid in more than a year when they host the Washington Wizards on Monday.
Dallas (9-4) won five straight games from Nov. 13-21, a stretch that included victories over San Antonio, Toronto and Houston - all playoff teams last season.
The Mavericks, though, dropped their last two games on the road to Indiana and Milwaukee, which were a combined 38 games under .500 a season ago. Dallas hasn’t lost more than two in a row since dropping its first four games of last season, a slide that didn’t keep it from posting a league-best 67-15 record.
Josh Howard, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry each scored at least 20 points Saturday, but the Mavericks fell 97-95 to the streaking Bucks. Dallas’ back-to-back defeats have come by a combined six points.
“It’s still a learning process for us,” said Howard, who scored a team-high 24 points and added a season-high 11 rebounds against Milwaukee. “This group of guys has been together for about three years now and we know what it takes to win.”
The Mavericks hope to bounce back at home, where they’re 6-0 this season with a victory margin of 11.1 points per game. Dallas is shooting 50.5 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from 3-point range at the American Airlines Center - both among the top home percentages in the league.
The Wizards (6-7) have dropped two in a row, continuing their streaky early season. They had rebounded from an 0-5 start with six straight victories.
Washington is playing without last season’s leading scorer Gilbert Arenas, who has missed the last five contests with a knee injury that required surgery last week. Arenas is expected to miss three months.
The Wizards, however, haven’t missed a beat offensively. Caron Butler is averaging 30.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 3.0 steals while shooting 53.8 percent in his last three games, and Antawn Jamison is averaging 32.7 points and 11.7 rebounds while shooting 63.8 percent during that same stretch.
Jamison had a season-high 41 points on 18-for-22 shooting and added 11 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season Saturday, but the Wizards lost 124-118 at Memphis.
“I’ve been known to find a way to make the ball go in the basket,” said Jamison, who won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award while playing for Dallas in 2003-04. “Offensively, we’re doing a good job moving it and the ball was just going in.”
Defensively, however, the Wizards have been among the worst teams in the league. They’ve given up at least 100 points in four straight games, including back-to-back contests of allowing at least 120.
Washington could struggle to improve defensively against Dallas, which is averaging 107.2 points during a five-game home win streak against the Wizards.
These teams split their season series in 2006-07, with the home team winning each game. Nowitzki had 30 points, 14 rebounds and five assists as the Mavericks won 107-80 in Dallas on Nov. 21.
Jamison was held to nine points in that contest, but is averaging 20.7 points and 10.0 rebounds in six games against his former club since the Mavericks traded him to the Wizards in June 2004.