Mavericks-Hornets Preview

The Associated Press

The final stop on the Dallas Mavericks' road trip is a place where they own a lengthy losing streak.

The New Orleans Hornets, however, are a much different opponent now that Chris Paul is no longer with the club.

The Mavericks will try Saturday night to end their 11-game road losing streak against the Hornets, who have lost six straight overall.

Including three losses in the 2008 playoffs, Dallas (9-7) has not won on the road against New Orleans (3-12) since March 27, 2007 - and that game was in Oklahoma City. Paul, dealt to the Clippers before this season, featured in 10 games in this run for the Hornets.

The Mavericks have already taken advantage of the new-look Hornets once this season as six players scored in double figures in a 96-81 home victory Jan. 7. New Orleans won its next game before beginning its current losing streak.

The Hornets are trying to avoid their first seven-game slide since they lost eight in a row Feb. 28-March 18, 2006, in Paul's rookie season. They own the Western Conference's worst record and have lost seven in a row at home since beating Boston on Dec. 28.

"We are sticking together and we are fighting as a team," forward Carl Landry said. "We are trying to stay together. We have to go out and grind it out; it's been tough."

The Mavericks dropped the first two games of their trip to the Lakers and Clippers before beating Utah 94-91 on Thursday. Shawn Marion scored a season-high 22 points as Dallas blew a double-digit lead in the second half before making numerous key plays down the stretch.

"We hung in there," Marion said. "We knew they were going to make a run. They're a young and energetic team. They play hard in this building. We kept our composure. We were able to respond after every run they made."

The defending NBA champions won for the first time in six road games against West foes.

"We're making steady progress," coach Rick Carlisle said. "But it is work. We got to continue with it. It doesn't happen overnight."

Dirk Nowitzki, who said he has been hampered by knee problems, is enduring a rough stretch. He's averaging 13.9 points on 43.2 percent shooting over his last nine games.

The Hornets continue to play without Eric Gordon, acquired in the Paul trade. They rallied from a 12-point deficit after three quarters by holding Houston to seven fourth-quarter points Thursday before falling 90-88 in overtime on the road.

"I always tell them, 'Give the fight and do your best,'" coach Monty Williams said. "We did everything we could to win the game."

New Orleans continues to struggle at 27.5 percent on 3-pointers for one of the league's worst marks. Marco Belinelli is the only Hornet with at least 10 attempts who is above 30 percent.

The Mavericks will play their third straight without Vince Carter, out with a foot injury. They have little sympathy for the Hornets' woes as they try to gain a split of this trip.

"We've gotta have this win Saturday to make up for those two (losses in L.A.)," guard Jason Terry told the Mavericks' official website.

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