Mavericks-Magic Preview

The Associated Press

The Dallas Mavericks continue to struggle on the road, with suspect play on both sides of the ball hurting their chances to win.

Perhaps facing the sub-.500 Orlando Magic, against whom they've won seven consecutive road meetings, can help them figure things out Saturday night.

The Mavericks (5-4) are undefeated at home while averaging 114.3 points. They haven't been nearly as successful on the road, going 1-4 including a 110-104 loss to Miami on Friday. Dallas committed a season-high 24 turnovers, with eight coming on steals by Dwyane Wade. The club is committing 17.2 turnovers per game and 19.2 per road contest.

"Our effort was good," coach Rick Carlisle said. "The turnovers doomed us."

Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis combined for 48 points but also committed five turnovers each. Ellis is one of the league's most turnover-prone players with 4.2 per game.

Fortunately for the Mavericks, Orlando (4-5) forces only 14.4 turnovers per game and averages 14.9 points off those mishaps. Plus, Dallas is 4-0 against teams which currently have losing records, winning by an average of 12.3 points.

Carlisle's club, though, has been more vulnerable defensively on the road, allowing four of five opponents to shoot 46 percent from the field or better. Miami hit 54.1 percent with LeBron James going 14 for 18.

Still, Nowitzki had a season-high 28 points on 8-of-12 shooting after he had averaged 16.3 over his previous four games while shooting 40.4 percent. Dallas remains one of the NBA's best shooting teams at 46.5 percent.

"If we go out and compete every night at this high level and turn our turnovers down, we can beat anybody in this league," said Ellis, averaging 30.0 points and 9.8 assists over his last five matchups with Orlando.

The Magic have conversely been strong at home, going 4-1, though they were all but single-handedly bailed out by Arron Afflalo's career-high 36 points in a 94-91 win over Milwaukee on Wednesday. Afflalo scored 29 in the second half and finished 11 of 15 from the field, helping erase a deficit that was as large as 19 points in the second quarter.

Afflalo hit five 3-pointers in the third, tying the team record for the most in one quarter, and was 8 of 11 from long distance on the night.

"Arron was extremely efficient tonight," coach Jacque Vaughn said. "It was just old-school drive-and-kick basketball. Sometimes the game is just that simple."

The seventh-year pro is hitting 52.0 percent of his 3-point attempts after connecting on 30.0 percent last season.

Dallas is letting opponents shoot 40.8 percent from beyond the arc on the road, but Afflalo will still likely need more help Saturday. His teammates hit 35.8 percent of their field goals Wednesday, and Nikola Vucevic was the only teammate to score more than 10.

Orlando's defense has also wavered recently, letting its last three opponents shoot a combined 51.0 percent after the first six were held to 39.1 percent.

The Mavericks have won 15 of the last 20 meetings, including seven in a row at Orlando since a 108-99 loss March 31, 2006.

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