Dallas (29-19) at Utah (27-22)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Salt Lake City, UT
Temp: 28° F
  • Game info: 10:30 pm EST Thu Feb 5, 2009
  • TV: TNT
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Josh Howard have been providing the bulk of the scoring, but ever since Jason Kidd began calling plays, the Dallas Mavericks haven’t lost.

With one of the league’s all-time best passers directing their offense the Mavericks have won four straight, a streak they’ll look to extend on Thursday when they head to Salt Lake City to face the Utah Jazz.

Dallas (29-19) had lost six of nine after getting routed 124-100 at Boston on Jan. 25, and before it returned home to face Golden State on Jan. 28, coach Rick Carlisle decided to leave Kidd, the NBA’s active assists leader, in charge of calling plays.

The Mavericks responded from their 24-point loss with a 24-point win. Six Dallas players scored in double figures in a 117-93 win over the Warriors, and that was followed with two even more impressive victories.

Nowitzki and Terry combined for 50 points in a 15-point win at Miami on Saturday, then those two totaled 52 as the Mavericks beat Orlando by 10 on Monday.

Howard had 23, Terry 20 and Brandon Bass 19 off the bench when Dallas returned home on Wednesday to top Portland 104-99.

“We believe in one another,” said Kidd, who had 10 assists and passed Oscar Robertson for fourth on the NBA’s career assists list. “We believe defensively and offensively that we can go out there and get some wins. The guys are playing at a high level and we are having fun doing it.”

The Mavericks are averaging 109.3 points and shooting 54.4 percent in their four wins.

Terry has especially been on fire lately. One of the leading candidates for the NBA’s sixth man of the year award, Terry is averaging 22.4 points in his last five contests.

Terry’s put up even bigger numbers against Utah (27-22) this season. He had a game-high 26 points in a 97-88 loss at EnergySolutions Arena on Dec. 26, then chipped in 22 in a 115-108 home win over the Jazz on Jan. 17.

Nowitzki had 39 in that victory, and he has a somewhat contemptuous history with Utah. The 7-foot German was ejected and later suspended for backhanding the Jazz’s Matt Harpring in the Dec. 26 game, and was also suspended following a game against Utah last season.

After his 39-point effort, Nowitzki also took a swipe at the officiating the Mavericks see when they play in Utah.

“It’s always that we have trouble in Salt Lake City, where they just let them get away with some stuff,” he said. “But here in Dallas we don’t have a problem.”

The Mavericks have lost three straight and eight of 11 in Utah.

Deron Williams had 30 points and nine assists in the Jan. 17 loss, but the Jazz aren’t sure if they’ll have their star point guard available for Thursday’s game. Williams missed Monday’s 105-86 win over Charlotte due to a right knee contusion suffered in Utah’s loss at Portland on Saturday.

He’s a game-time decision for Thursday, but he did test the knee in practice on Wednesday.

With Williams - along with the already-absent Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko - sidelined against the Bobcats, Mehmet Okur and Ronnie Brewer stepped up. Brewer scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half and Okur led the way with 22.

“You never know what to expect with as many guys as we have out,” coach Jerry Sloan said. “We had to have a lot of guys play well in order for us to win.”

Williams is averaging 23.3 points and 12.2 assists in his last six games against the Mavs, including a career-high 41 in Dallas on Dec. 8, 2007.

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Thursday, Feb 5