Mavericks-Nuggets Preview

The Associated Press

With a victory against one of the league's top teams over the weekend, the Dallas Mavericks maintained their perfect home record in March.

It has been another story for the defending champs, however, on the road.

In the midst of their longest road losing streak in more than a dozen years, the Mavericks try to avoid dropping their eighth straight away from Dallas on Monday night when they face the Denver Nuggets.

After opening a three-game homestand with uninspiring wins over Washington and Charlotte, the Mavericks (26-20) looked impressive in Saturday's 106-99 victory over Southwest Division-leading San Antonio. Dirk Nowitzki scored 19 of his game-high 27 points in the first half, while Jason Terry finished with 17 points and Jason Kidd added 14 with 10 assists.

"Everybody stepped up. Everybody came to play," Kidd said. "We knew how important this game is. As the season is getting closer to the end, we've got to play better basketball."

That's especially true on the road.

The Mavericks are 5-0 at home this month, but have lost seven straight road games since beating Philadelphia on Feb. 17. It's their longest road skid since an eight-game slide Nov. 7-30, 1999.

A subpar offense has been one of the biggest reasons for the road woes and Nowitzki has been right in the middle of those struggles.

The Mavericks, who are 8-13 away from Dallas after tying Miami for the league's best road record last season at 28-13, are averaging 91.9 points during their road skid compared to 102.2 at home this month. Nowitzki is averaging 19.1 points on 45.3 percent shooting in the last seven road games, with those numbers at 29.8 and 53.8 percent in the last five at home.

Dallas, one-half game ahead of the Nuggets (25-20) for sixth place in the Western Conference, won in Denver 105-95 on Feb. 8 behind 25 points from Nowitzki, but it hasn't won twice at the Pepsi Center in a single season since 2002-03.

The Nuggets are coming off Saturday's 98-91 win over Boston. Denver, which has alternated wins and losses through seven contests during a nine-game homestand, again received encouraging performances from Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried.

Gallinari scored 20 points and is averaging 18.0 on 47.2 percent shooting in his last three games. He had totaled 18 points on 5-of-25 shooting in his previous four contests after missing 13 with a left ankle sprain.

In his lone game against Dallas this season, Gallinari scored 15 and Ty Lawson had a season-high 27 points in a 115-93 victory Dec. 26.

Faried finished with 18 points and a season-high 16 rebounds against the Celtics, and is averaging 10.1 points on 64.7 percent shooting with 8.6 boards in starting the last 14 games. The rookie out of Morehead State was 5 for 5 from the field and 8 of 8 on free throws Saturday.

"I did all right by playing with my heart," he said. "I'm not content. I want to do better."

The 6-foot-8 power forward, who had an alley oop dunk and four layups versus Boston, might again find some success against a Dallas team that could be thin in the frontcourt.

Starting center Brendan Haywood is expected to be out at least four more games with a sprained right knee and forward Shawn Marion could be sidelined again after missing his first game Saturday with a sore left knee.

The Nuggets could have both JaVale McGee and Wilson Chandler for Monday's game. McGee was acquired in a trade for Nene on Thursday and Chandler agreed to a five-year deal worth nearly $37 million Sunday after returning from China.

What to Read Next