Since his return, they’re finding it just as hard to post a victory.
Dallas looks to avoid its longest losing streak in nearly 12 years Wednesday night when it hosts the Los Angeles Lakers, winners in eight of their last nine.
While Nowitzki nursed a sprained knee, the Mavericks went 2-7, losing four times by double digits. However, Dallas hasn’t fared much better since Nowitzki, who was averaging 24.1 points at the time of his injury, re-entered the lineup, losing back-to-back games by an average of 16.5 points.
Nowitzki was ejected in the third quarter after scoring seven points in less than 15 minutes on Saturday in an 89-70 loss to Memphis, but he responded with 32 points in Monday’s 103-89 defeat to Detroit as Dallas ended a winless four-game trip. The only other Mav to score in double figures was Jason Terry(notes), who had 18.
Dallas (26-14) has lost six straight and hasn’t dropped seven consecutive games since Feb. 9-19, 1999.
“Our competitive level has to come up, it is as simple as that,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “That just wasn’t acceptable.”
Dallas averaged 99.5 points before Nowitzki’s injury but has scored an NBA-worst 89.4 per game over the last 11. The Mavericks are allowing 97.2 points per game during that stretch.
“We’ve got the talent to do this, but (Saturday) we didn’t get a stop when we needed one, and we couldn’t hit a shot when we needed one,” Kidd said. “Defense was always our blueprint for winning, and it isn’t there right now.”
The Mavericks’ opportunities to end their skid may only get more difficult with this game against the two-time defending champion Lakers and Thursday’s matchup with Central Division-leading Chicago.
Bryant is averaging 16.3 points and has scored 20 or less in the last four contests against Dallas, with the teams splitting those meetings.
Still, the Lakers (31-12) have won eight of 10 against Dallas and are in control of the Pacific Division. After having a seven-game winning streak snapped Sunday against the Clippers, the Lakers bounced back with a 101-94 win over Oklahoma City on Monday.
Los Angeles will play its third game in four nights Wednesday.
“We’ve been playing better,” coach Phil Jackson said. “We know that we’ve got a ways to improve, things to do, but our intensity was right on a back-to-back night.”
Lamar Odom(notes) has stayed consistent over the last 12 games since he relinquished his starting role, averaging 15.0 points and shooting 55.4 percent during that stretch. He scored 16 against the Thunder, his ninth straight game in double figures.
The Lakers have won three of the last four meetings in Dallas.