Mavericks-Knicks Preview

The Associated Press

Tremendous scoring led by Dirk Nowitzki has the Dallas Mavericks surging into playoff position.

Carmelo Anthony's dazzling offensive efforts, meanwhile, are being wasted by the fading New York Knicks.

Nowitzki looks to continue his strong stretch and lead the Mavericks on Monday night against Anthony and the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Dallas (34-23) has won nine of 12 games while averaging 107.5 points. The Mavericks have a chance to sweep this three-game road swing after scoring 118.5 points per game on 55.1 percent shooting in double-digit wins at Philadelphia and Detroit.

Nowitzki is a big part of Dallas' recent surge, helping it climb into eighth in the Western Conference.

The forward is averaging 24.5 points on 57.0 percent from the floor - 49.1 from beyond the arc - over the past 12 games. He connected on 58.1 percent of his field goals in the two road wins, sinking 7 of 14 3-pointers while totaling 49 points.

The 12-time All-Star scored 24 in a 113-102 victory over the Pistons on Saturday as six Mavericks scored in double digits, and the team totaled 31 assists one day after getting a season-high 39.

"It helps when you're not turning the ball over, plain and simple," guard Vince Carter told the team's official website after Dallas committed 14 turnovers Saturday - 11 fewer than the season-high 25 while beating the 76ers. "We can score and we get the job done when we're efficient and we take care of the ball. We were just sharing the ball and I think guys were finding the open man. Guys were making shots, but we were just making plays for each other."

Anthony might appreciate some help from the rest of the Knicks (21-35). The superstar forward is averaging 31.3 points during their 2-8 stretch, but Tim Hardaway Jr. is the next highest scorer over that span at 11.9 per game.

That gap has been even wider the past three games, with Anthony averaging 40.3 points and no other Knick above 13.3.

He did his part again Saturday, scoring 35 points and hitting 13 of 25 from the field while the rest of the team shot 40.6 percent in a 107-98 loss at Atlanta.

Frustration is growing for Anthony, who has already stated he won't leave the Knicks via free agency after the season.

"It's same things, different days," Anthony said. "It's starting to get tough to handle. It's definitely tested me. The frustration has definitely sunk in."

Reality may also be starting to set in since Anthony may miss the playoffs for the first time in his 11 NBA seasons.

Coach Mike Woodson, though, isn't ready to give up.

"I'm going to keep coaching and I'm going to keep pushing," Woodson said. "If it means being naggy or whatever, that's my job. But I've got to get them over the hump, man. I've got to get them over this funk that we're in."

The Knicks won 92-80 at Dallas on Jan. 5, limiting Nowitzki to 18 points, and have taken the last two matchups at MSG while holding the Mavs to an average of 95.5 points.

They took the latest meeting there 104-94 on Nov. 9, 2012, behind Anthony's 31 points. Nowitzki, though, missed that game recovering from knee surgery.

He's averaged 29.8 points in his past 11 games - eight wins - at the Garden, making 52.0 percent of his shots, including 46.4 from long range.

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