Wizards-Mavericks Preview

The Associated Press

The Dallas Mavericks are happy to be home and happy to have a couple of days off from games.

They're probably also happy about their first two opponents this week.

The Mavericks will try to end a three-game slide as they host the NBA's worst teams starting Tuesday night against the Washington Wizards.

Dallas (23-20) has lost seven of nine within a 12-day span, a stretch it capped by dropping three games in as many nights on the road. The Mavericks fell Thursday in Phoenix, Friday in Sacramento and Saturday at Golden State.

"Well, we've gotta go forward," coach Rick Carlisle told the Mavericks' official website. "It was a murderer's stretch, a tough schedule and all that, but it's behind us and we've gotta focus on this next stretch of games. And the home games are critical for us."

Fatigue was clearly a factor on the grueling road stretch, with 38-year-old Jason Kidd sitting out Saturday's 111-87 loss to the Warriors. Vince Carter, 35, averaged 8.3 points on 28.6 percent shooting during the three-game skid and Dirk Nowitzki, 33, averaged 17.7 points - well shy of his 22.8 career mark.

There are encouraging signs at home, where Dallas is 15-7. Mavericks big men Brendan Haywood (ankle) and Brandan Wright (concussion) both practiced Monday and could be back.

"It's been a tough stretch here but the only way is really up, I think," Nowitzki said. "We've gotta use this homestand here to build some momentum and get some guys back, play with some energy on both sides of the floor, get our legs back and just play a lot sharper."

This three-game homestand should help Dallas since it begins with matchups against Washington (9-31) and Charlotte. Those teams are a combined 6-34 on the road, with the Wizards dropping to 3-15 after Monday's 112-97 defeat to San Antonio.

Wizards coach Randy Wittman wasn't happy that his club allowed the Spurs to shoot 62.2 percent in the first half.

"We can't have a first half from a defensive standpoint (like that)," Wittman said. "Again, until we get committed defensively for 48 (minutes), that's what it was."

JaVale McGee had 21 points and 15 boards while Jordan Crawford added 19 points for the Wizards, whose problems seem to be too numerous to list.

"It's not just the guards," guard John Wall said. "It's not just the bigs. It's everything. No help side, no closing back on shooters, and they score whenever they want to, basically. Until we started playing defense in the second half, a young team like us, we can't wait against a team like this."

Washington, 1-7 when playing the second half of a back-to-back set of games, has lost five of its last six meetings with Dallas.

Haywood's lone games against the team he spent his first eight full seasons with came last season as he totaled four points and three boards in two wins for the Mavs.

Yi Jianlian has played sparingly for Dallas since being signed as a free agent after appearing in 63 games for Washington in 2010-11.

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