The Mavericks will try for a season-high sixth straight win Wednesday night when they visit the Jazz in a rematch of a memorable game from earlier this month.
Dallas (19-9) is nearly two-thirds of the way to its total number of losses from all of last season when it finished an NBA-best 67-15. The recent winning streak has the Mavericks feeling a lot better about themselves, but still looking for improvement.
“We’re not flying high and mighty right now,” Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. “We know we still have our game to work on, and that keeps us on our toes.”
Dirk Nowitzki scored 30 points on Friday in a 102-89 win over the Los Angeles Clippers after he turned in back-to-back 31-point efforts. The reigning league MVP had started a bit slowly, scoring at least 30 points just four times in his first 25 games.
“At this point it doesn’t matter how many games you win in a row,” Nowitzki said. “It’s a matter of finding a rhythm. This is a step in the right direction. We’re not worried about any streaks.”
Utah (15-14) got off to a strong start before losing nine of its last 11 games to fall into third place in the Northwest Division, which it won last season. The Jazz completed a 1-3 road trip with a 104-102 loss at Miami on Saturday.
The Heat shot nearly 52 percent against the Jazz, who were outscored 54-42 in the paint.
“We had a tough time stopping them,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. “But we did hang in there and give ourselves a chance at the end.”
Carlos Boozer’s poor performance was a major reason for the disparity in the paint. Boozer, who entered averaging 25.2 points, missed his first 10 shots and finished with a season-low 10 points.
This is the first meeting between the teams since Utah’s Deron Williams and Dallas’ Josh Howard engaged in a scoring duel in the Mavs’ 125-117 victory on Dec. 8. Both players had career highs as Williams scored 41 points, but was bested by Howard’s 47.
“We didn’t have much of an answer for Howard,” Sloan said. “We couldn’t stop him, but there were a lot of people we had a tough time stopping.”
Howard’s point total was the sixth-highest in Mavs history. He also grabbed 10 rebounds for one of his five double-doubles this season.
Dallas is 13-4 against Western Conference foes, the best mark of any team in the West. The Mavs have split six road games within the conference.
Utah is 9-2 at home, where it has played just twice since Dec. 3 - coinciding with its rough stretch. The Jazz are trying to avoid falling to .500 for the first time since the first week of the season.