Suns-Mavericks Preview


The Dallas Mavericks have been beaten by the NBA's top two teams in their last two games on their home floor.

They would figure to have a good chance of avoiding a third straight home loss given their history against the Phoenix Suns in Dallas.

The Mavericks look to win their 10th straight home game over the Suns when they meet Sunday night.

Dallas (18-25) had won five of six before a 113-107 home loss to Southwest Division-leading San Antonio on Friday, which came a week after a 117-114 overtime home loss to Northwest Division-leading Oklahoma City. An 11-0 run in the final minute made the loss to the Spurs appear much more competitive than it was as the Mavericks' defense struggled again.

Dallas ranks among the league's worst units, allowing 103.2 points per game. It has given up 100 or more points 28 times in 43 games this season compared to 18 times in 66 contests last year.

"It's hard to overcome layup after layup, and that's what happened," coach Rick Carlisle said. "They played at a higher level than we did."

Dallas' offense got an unexpected spark with Rodrigue Beaubois' season-high 19 - more than the 15 points he had the entire month of December. Beaubois has shown flashes of potential at times in his four years with Dallas, but inconsistency has led to him playing a career-low 11.9 minutes this season.

"He was terrific," Carlisle said. "To me it's not about the points but about the energy, enthusiasm and disposition. It's up to him. If he plays like this he has a chance to secure the backup position and he'll challenge for the starting position. But he has to establish the consistency."

More performances like that from Beaubois would be especially big for the Mavericks as Dirk Nowitzki is still trying to find a groove as he returns from knee surgery. Nowitzki is averaging 15.0 points on 34.1 percent shooting in his last three games.

He was sidelined for the Mavericks' first meeting of the season with the Suns, a 97-94 road win on Dec. 6. O.J. Mayo had 23 points as Dallas won for the ninth time in the last 10 matchups.

The Mavericks have also won the last nine in Dallas since a double-overtime loss to Phoenix on March 14, 2007.

The Suns won their first two games under new coach Lindsey Hunter before Saturday's 108-99 loss at San Antonio.

Fourth-quarter play continues to be an issue for Phoenix (15-29), which was outscored 27-17 in the final period by the Spurs. The Suns' averages of 21.9 points on 40.6 percent field-goal shooting in the fourth both rank in the league's bottom third, but Hunter wasn't necessarily discouraged.

"I think our guys did a really good job executing, fighting defensively," Hunter said. "We accomplished everything we talked about, our intensity, our focus and our mental preparation. That's what it's about. I couldn't be more proud of a team than these guys right now."

Goran Dragic is hoping to bounce back after scoring nine - 5.1 less than his team-leading average.