Dallas looks to win its 11th straight over Minnesota when the clubs meet Tuesday night at the Target Center.
The Mavericks (43-30) have lost two in row, but fortunately for them, it hasn’t hurt them in the Western Conference standings. They have a 3 1/2-game lead over Phoenix, loser of three straight, for the final playoff spot with nine games remaining.
Dallas, though, is in the midst of a rough season-ending stretch, which includes a home matchup with the Suns on April 5. Starting with Friday’s 103-101 loss to Denver, the Mavericks face only two opponents in their final 11 games that have records under .500 - Minnesota (21-53) twice and Memphis.
Dallas is looking to avoid its first three-game losing streak since dropping four in a row Jan. 9-14. It’s coming off a 102-74 blowout by Cleveland on Sunday, as the Mavs were held to their lowest point total of the season and were outscored 30-11 in the third quarter and 55-25 in the second half.
“We’ve had disappointing games and we have always had to bounce back, and for the most part, we have been able to,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We don’t have a lot of time to mope. We have a lot of important games coming up this week, so we are going to have to regroup and get ready to play Minnesota.”
Looking to get back on track, Dallas will try to end the shooting struggles that plagued them during the last two losses. The Mavs shot 36 percent (29-for-80) from the field and 29 percent (5-of-17) from 3-point range Sunday.
The Mavericks shot 36 percent in the defeat to the Nuggets on Friday night, with Nowitzki again going 7-of-23 and Terry shooting 6-for-17.
Like his team, Nowitzki’s history against Minnesota suggests he’ll bounce back Tuesday. He’s averaging 25.7 points and shooting 55.4 percent in his last six games versus the Timberwolves, who have lost 10 straight in the series since a 91-78 win Jan. 4, 2006.
Dallas forward Josh Howard, the team’s third-leading scorer at 18.0 points per game, missed his 11th straight game Sunday with a sore left ankle. His status for Tuesday is uncertain.
Minnesota snapped a seven-game losing streak during which it averaged 89.6 points with a 108-99 win over New Jersey on Sunday. The victory was the Timberwolves’ fifth in their last 31 games.
“(Mike) has been aggressive all year long as far as rebounding and passing, but tonight he looked for the shot first,” coach Kevin McHale told the Timberwolves’ official Web site. “That’s definitely what we need. When Mike does that, it just opens up things for everybody else.”
The Timberwolves need Miller to continue to step up given their injury situation. Guard Randy Foye missed Sunday’s game with a sore left hip while forward-center Craig Smith sat out with a calf strain. McHale said both players are questionable for Tuesday.
The Timberwolves haven’t won two in a row since a three-game winning streak Jan. 23-26.