The Dallas Mavericks have struggled against some of the Western Conference’s best teams recently and now they have to visit one of the most difficult arenas for visitors this season.
The Mavericks look to snap the Utah Jazz’s 15-game home winning streak Monday night when the teams meet for the third time this season.
Dallas (39-21) is in seventh place in the West and hasn’t helped itself recently, splitting its last four games. Those two losses came against the top teams in the West - 97-94 to San Antonio on Thursday, and 108-104 in overtime to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
“You’re playing the best in the West, so you want to be considered a team that can compete with those guys,” Jason Kidd told Dallas’ official Web site.
The Mavericks now visit the Northwest Division-leading Jazz (38-22), trying to become the first team to win at Utah since Boston on Dec. 29.
The Jazz, tied with Dallas for the league’s best home record (25-3), have won 15 straight at EnergySolutions Arena since that 104-98 loss to the Celtics. It’s their longest home winning streak since a 19-game stretch in 1995-96 matched a franchise record.
Utah returns home Monday after splitting a pair of road games, losing 110-98 to New Orleans on Friday before beating Memphis 113-92 on Saturday. The Jazz had seven players score in double figures and shot 57.0 percent from the field in that win, which improved them to 13-19 on the road this season.
“It’s a road victory and road victories are hard to come by, especially this year,” said Deron Williams, who had 13 points and 19 assists. “We’ll take them any way we can get them.”
“It was an important game to try and win,” coach Jerry Sloan said. “Almost every game we play should have that kind of intensity. I know our numbers are not always as pretty as you would like them to be, but the point is trying to win.”
Utah and Dallas have split the first two meetings this season, each winning at home. The Jazz won 99-90 in Salt Lake City on Dec. 26, their sixth win in the last nine games between the teams there.
The Mavericks, who are 14-18 on the road this season, have lost six of their last eight away from Dallas, including Sunday’s defeat to the Lakers.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 30, including nine in the extra period, but after sending the game into overtime with a 3-pointer, he missed another 3 that would have tied it with seven seconds remaining. Before that, Kidd also had a crucial miss after he failed to convert the 3-point play following a foul on his layup, which made it 105-104 with 11 seconds left.
“We were right there, but ‘right there’ in this league doesn’t get you anywhere,” Nowitzki said. “You have to find a way to get those big stops. Somebody has to make the big shots so we win those games.”
Nowitzki is averaging 31.2 points the last nine games.