The Dallas Mavericks have hardly looked inspired lately in their attempt to finish in second place in the Western Conference.
Dallas has won two of three against Golden State despite being unable to contain Ellis, but a fourth-quarter collapse in the latest meeting figures to be fresh in the Warriors’ memory when the teams play in Oakland on Saturday night.
The Mavericks (47-25) had the upper-hand in the race for the No. 2 seed after tying the NBA’s longest winning streak of the season at 13, but their play over the past two weeks has them in a jumbled mix with Denver and Utah - with Phoenix and Oklahoma City close behind.
In its last six games, Dallas has beaten Chicago and the Los Angeles Clippers but has dropped the other four by an average of 17.7 points.
“They played well and we need to play better, I think it comes down to that,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I think tonight they were more aggressive in the second half and they did a great job defensively down the stretch.”
While Dallas hasn’t had the same problem with Golden State (20-51) that it has with Portland, its wins over the Warriors have hardly been easy.
Ellis averaged 41.5 points as the teams split their first two meetings, and he seemed to be headed for another 40-point effort when he had 22 and Golden State led 70-61 at halftime on its home court Feb. 8.
Down eight after three quarters, though, Dallas responded. Terry scored 10 of his season-high 36 points in the fourth as the Mavericks outscored the Warriors 37-19 en route to a 127-117 win.
Ellis had five points after halftime before leaving with a knee injury in the fourth that caused him to miss the next three games.
Injuries have plagued the Warriors all season, but that hasn’t stopped them from playing the role of a spoiler. Golden State has averaged 122.6 points in going 3-4 over its past seven, dealing Memphis’ faint playoff hopes a critical blow in a 128-110 win Wednesday.
Rookie Stephen Curry(notes) had 30 points and 11 assists, Ellis had 21 points and eight assists, and undrafted rookie Reggie Williams(notes), signed earlier this month from the NBDL, continued to surprise with 23 points. The small forward has averaged 20.8 over his last five games.
“I’m think I’m playing well, and I always believed I could play at this level,” Williams told the NBA’s official Web site. “I’m not going to say I should have been here before. I’m in the perfect system for me. For me, it just came at the right time.”
Williams’ emergence has cost Anthony Morrow(notes) playing time, a trend Dallas would like to see continue. Morrow has averaged 29.7 points and shot 66.0 percent in his last three games against the Mavericks.
Nowitzki has been held to an average of 20.7 points in his last six games in Oakland.