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Mavericks-Pacers Preview

AP - Sports

The short-handed Dallas Mavericks ended a losing streak earlier this week by taking advantage of a struggling team. They'll get to face another one in their next game.

The Indiana Pacers, who like the Mavericks are missing their perennial scoring leader, will try to earn only their second win in seven games Friday night in Indianapolis.

Dallas has played its first nine games without Dirk Nowitzki, who is recovering from knee surgery, while Shawn Marion has missed the past five contests due to a sprained knee ligament.

With those two players out, the Mavericks dropped three straight games before topping winless Washington 107-101 on Wednesday. Leading scorer O.J. Mayo had a team-best 25 points, and Chris Kaman provided 23 on 10-of-12 shooting during his first start in a week.

"We'll take it right now. Being on that three-game schneid wasn't too good, so we'll take it and take it with us on the road," Mayo told the team's website.

The Mavericks (5-4) will next seek to snap a three-game road skid during the first in a set of back-to-back games. That stretch concludes with a visit to Cleveland.

Coach Rick Carlisle would first like to see a better performance from his team, which nearly blew an 18-point fourth-quarter lead Wednesday.

"We've got to be honest with ourselves about how we're playing," Carlisle said. "We're playing a brand of basketball that isn't where it needs to be. We've got to be get better, so we've got practice (Thursday) and then a tough back-to-back. We've got to be patient but persistent with the team."

Dallas will seek that improved effort against a Pacers team that's eager to avoid its own three-game skid. Indiana (3-6) shot a combined 34.8 percent in Tuesday's 74-72 loss to Toronto and Wednesday's 99-85 setback in Milwaukee.

The Pacers were 5 of 20 from 3-point range (25.0) against the Bucks and trailed by 32 points early in the third quarter. Paul George was the only starter in double figures with 12 points while Tyler Hansbrough had a team-best 17.

With Danny Granger expected to miss three months due to an ailing left knee, Indiana is averaging 87.8 points - nearly 10 fewer than last season - and shooting a league-worst 39.8 percent.

"We knew the schedule was going to be tough early," coach Frank Vogel said. "We knew adjusting to not having Danny Granger was going to be tough early. We've got to overcome it."

George might help the Pacers get past Granger's absence in this game as he scored a career-high 30 points in a 98-87 road win over the Mavericks on Feb. 3, the only meeting between the teams last season. David West chipped in 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting.

Indiana has won two of the past three meetings with Dallas after losing nine of 10.

Friday's game will feature the return of a trio of former Pacers: Darren Collison, Troy Murphy and Dahntay Jones.

Collison and Jones were traded to Dallas in July for backup center Ian Mahinmi. Murphy played three-plus seasons in Indiana before being sent to New Jersey in a five-player deal in August 2010.

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