Bucks-Mavericks Preview

The Associated Press

The Dallas Mavericks did not worry too much when they lost their first three games. They also have not been overly excited about their current winning stretch.

Hoping to remain grounded, the Mavericks look for a fourth consecutive victory Friday night while trying to keep the Milwaukee Bucks winless on the road.

After going without a victory in its first three games against Miami, Denver and Oklahoma City, Dallas has regrouped to win six of eight and find its rhythm. However, the defending champs have managed to stay within the moment during their current three-game winning streak.

"It's early in the season," guard Delonte West told the Mavericks' official website.

Though Dallas (6-5) is averaging just 93.2 points, it's held its last eight opponents to 88.3 per game after yielding at least 104 in each of the first three contests.

"It's all about how we compete," coach Rick Carlisle said. "We're building some consistency with our competitiveness."

The Mavericks played fairly well defensively in a 90-85 win at Boston on Wednesday but needed a Dirk Nowitzki layup with 5.1 seconds left to go ahead for good.

"It's a fun situation to be in," said Nowitzki, who finished with 16 points and seven rebounds. "Everybody's looking at you and your team really depends on you, so I like to be in the position where I can make something happen."

Carlisle should like that his team has won three in a row without injured guard Jason Kidd and Nowitzki averaging 14.7 points during that span.

Nowitzki's 18.6 overall average is by far his lowest in 12 seasons.

West, who has started in place of Kidd in his first season with Dallas, had 12 points Wednesday and Jason Terry scored a team-high 18.

"We're getting a little more familiarity with our new guys and the challenge will be to carry this into Friday night," said Carlisle, who was ejected for picking up back-to-back technical fouls.

The Mavericks have lost two straight versus the Bucks (4-6), who are looking to avoid dropping their first seven road games for the first time since 2004-05.

Dallas had a seven-game home winning streak against Milwaukee snapped with a 103-99 defeat Dec. 13, 2010.

Nowitzki, who scored 30 in that contest, has averaged exactly that many points and 8.7 rebounds in his last three games against the Bucks.

After suffering through an 0-5 western trip, Milwaukee has won two in a row. Brandon Jennings scored 27 and Stephen Jackson added 25 in Thursday's 102-93 victory over Detroit.

Milwaukee has averaged 102.0 points on 48.5 percent shooting while going 4-0 at home. That's a drastic difference than on the road, where the Bucks are scoring just 88.8 per game and shooting 40.3 percent.

"We're not playing a very efficient game (on the road)," said Jackson, who has totaled 59 points on 21-of-34 shooting in the last two games.

Jennings had 23 points and 10 assists at Dallas last season.

Milwaukee's Scott Skiles became the 39th coach in NBA history to reach 400 victories Thursday.

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