Utah (17-7) at Dallas (18-4)

By MATT BEARDMORE, STATS Writer Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 Tipoff: 8:30 pm EST Sat Dec 11, 2010

While the Dallas Mavericks have been shooting well lately, it’s their defense that has sparked an 11-game winning streak.

The Mavericks seek their seventh consecutive victory at American Airlines Center on Saturday night when they face a Utah Jazz team looking to extend its road winning streak to seven.

While Dallas (18-4) is shooting 50.3 percent from the field over the last four games, the defending Southwest Division champs have limited opponents to 92.6 points per game and 43.3 percent shooting in its 10 victories. It’s the longest streak for Dallas since a 13-game run from Feb. 17-March 10.

The Mavericks’ defense has been even better at home during this run, holding teams to an average of 90.8 points on 41.2 percent shooting in the six victories.

“Well, give the credit to the defense,” Caron Butler(notes) said following Thursday’s 102-89 victory over New Jersey. “That’s something we’ve honed in on since training camp. And we’re doing a great job of capitalizing on that opportunity of playing home games and winning home games.”

Coach Rick Carlisle, though, knows his team cannot afford a repeat of Thursday when the Mavericks committed 15 turnovers and missed 12 of 16 3-pointers.

“We can play better and we are going to have to play better on Saturday,” he said.

Carlisle’s team played well on both ends in a 93-81 victory in Utah on Dec. 3. Dirk Nowitzki(notes) made 12 of 18 shots and scored a team-high 26 points, while the Mavericks’ zone defense held the Jazz to 39.2 percent shooting.

The loss snapped Utah’s season-best seven-game winning streak and a five-game run at home.

The Northwest Division-leading Jazz (17-7), who play seven of nine on the road beginning Saturday, will try to return the favor as Dallas looks for its first seven-game home win streak since an eight-game run ended March 13.

Utah, meanwhile, is one victory shy of its first seven-game road winning streak since Jan. 20-Feb. 21.

Deron Williams(notes) scored a season-high 32 points and C.J. Miles(notes) had 19 of his season-best 26 in the fourth quarter as the Jazz capped off a 4-2 homestand Friday with a 117-105 victory over Orlando.

“They gave me some opportunities to get down the lane and make things happen and I took those,” said Williams, who was held to 12 points and committed four turnovers in the Dec. 3 loss to the Mavericks.

The former Dallas-area high school star, though, has played at a high level in nine career games at American Airlines Center, averaging 21.0 points and 8.0 assists. Williams had team highs with 20 points and nine assists as Utah ended a five-game slide in Dallas with a 111-93 victory Jan. 9.

Nowitzki, who had 29 points and eight boards in that defeat, is scoring 24.7 per game on 57.3 percent shooting during the Mavericks’ winning streak.

Andrei Kirilenko(notes) will likely see plenty of time against the former MVP. Playing with a strained right quadriceps on Friday, the Jazz forward had 13 rebounds, five assists and three blocks.

The Mavericks have won 14 of 17 at home in this matchup.

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Saturday, Dec 11