Bobcats-Mavericks Preview

The Associated Press

The Dallas Mavericks pulled off a surprising win in their season opener but failed to carry that momentum into their next game.

With a couple of days to recover from back-to-back games and the potential return of Chris Kaman, Dallas might have an opportunity to get back in the win column after Saturday night's home opener against the Charlotte Bobcats, who have never beaten the Mavericks.

Dallas is expected to play without perennial All-Star Dirk Nowitzki for the next six weeks, but wasn't affected too much by his absence in Tuesday's 99-91 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the favorites in the Western Conference.

The Mavericks, though, fell 113-94 to Utah the next night after shooting 37.6 percent. Darren Collison scored a team-high 17 points for the second consecutive game but only three other players reached double figures compared with six overall in the win over Los Angeles.

Dallas was also outscored 37-13 in the third quarter.

"We would have liked to go home 2-0, but we've gotta go home now and protect the home court," forward Brandan Wright told the team's website.

The Mavericks (1-1) would appear to have a strong chance of prevailing on their court as they're 15-0 all-time against the Bobcats. That streak is tied for the NBA's second-longest active run against any opponent behind the Lakers' 19 consecutive wins over Minnesota.

Dallas might also get some help as it tries to continue that dominance if Kaman can come back from a strained right calf, which has kept him from making his debut with the team.

If he returns, Kaman will face a Charlotte team that finished 7-59 last season for the worst winning percentage in NBA history (.106). The Bobcats, though, snapped a 23-game losing streak dating back to last season by beating Indiana 90-89 on Friday in Mike Dunlap's coaching debut.

Kemba Walker led the way with 30 points and Gerald Henderson chipped in 18. New additions Ben Gordon and Ramon Sessions also scored in double figures.

"The most important thing was to kill the elephant, and that elephant was that losing streak. We had to get that off of everybody's back. It's just one of those marks you want to clean off the board," Dunlap said. "I think this is a different team."

While they've failed to win a game in the series, the Bobcats have lost by five points or fewer in four of the last six meetings, including a 101-96 defeat in Dallas on March 15. Nowitzki had a team-best 27 points for the Mavericks in that game and he'll be missed in this one as he's averaged 28.3 points over his last seven matchups.

The often-injured Kaman will try to make up for his absence by posting his sixth consecutive double-double against Charlotte.

The Bobcats' Tyrus Thomas has averaged 18.8 points on 53.8 percent shooting and 9.5 rebounds in his last four games against Dallas.