Dallas (30-15) at Phoenix (26-21)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Phoenix, AZ, US
Temp: 83° F
  • Game info: 10:30 pm EST Thu Jan 28, 2010
  • TV: TNT
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Dirk Nowitzki(notes) has been around long enough to see the Dallas Mavericks play plenty of tight games. His experience may be helping him excel in those contests.

Set to break the franchise record for games played, Nowitzki leads a Mavericks team coming off yet another close victory as it travels to Phoenix for a matchup with the struggling Suns on Thursday night.

Nowitzki has played in 883 games with Dallas (30-15), tying guard Brad Davis (1980-92) on top of the franchise’s career list. In his latest game, the eight-time All-Star had 28 points as the Mavericks held on to beat Milwaukee 108-107 on Tuesday night.

Dallas tied an NBA record with its 10th consecutive win in a one-point game, dating to a 122-121 loss to Golden State on March 23, 2006. The St. Louis Hawks won 10 straight one-point games from 1959-1960.

Nowitzki is averaging 31.4 points in five such contests for the Mavs this season, including a 33-point performance in a 102-101 win over the Suns (26-21) on Dec. 8, the teams’ last meeting.

“I know this streak goes back a couple of years,” coach Rick Carlisle said Tuesday. “To have a successful season, you have to be able to win close games and we’ve had a lot of them.”

The latest win came two days after the Mavs defeated New York 128-78 for the most lopsided victory in team history. Blowout wins have been more of an exception for Dallas, which is 13-4 in games decided by five points or fewer this season.

“We do what we have to do to buckle down at the end and win,” said Mavs forward Shawn Marion(notes), the longtime Sun who has averaged 15.7 points in three games against his former team.

Dallas got two of its starters back against the Bucks, with point guard Jason Kidd(notes) and center Erick Dampier(notes) returning after one-game absences. Kidd sat out against the Knicks due to personal reasons, while Dampier was nursing a left knee injury.

With Leandro Barbosa(notes) (wrist) and Grant Hill(notes) (heel) out, Phoenix suited up 10 players in a 114-109 overtime loss to Charlotte on Tuesday night.

Barbosa had surgery that day to remove a ganglion cyst in his right wrist, and he’s expected to be miss up to six weeks. Hill, who had played in 128 consecutive games, is day to day.

This is a tough time for the Suns to have to contend with injuries. They’ve lost seven of nine overall, giving up an average of 113.8 points.

“We have to be able to step up and execute and be able to complete plays,” coach Alvin Gentry. “It’s everybody’s fault. It’s the players. It’s the coaches. No one can escape criticism for this.”

Phoenix has three guards remaining - Jason Richardson(notes), Goran Dragic(notes) and Steve Nash(notes), who is 12th on Dallas’ career games played list (408).

Nash had 23 points versus the Bobcats despite shooting 7 for 22. He had 27 points on 9-of-15 shooting in this season’s first matchup with the Mavs.

Nash made all three of his attempts from beyond the arc in that contest. He’s 15 for 31 (48.4 percent) from 3-point range over his last six games.

The Suns are 32 for 64 from long range over their last two games.

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