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News » Hornets-Mavericks Preview 2009-04-12

Hornets-Mavericks Preview 2009-04-12

Hornets-Mavericks Preview 2009-04-12
The Dallas Mavericks clinched the last unclaimed playoff spot in the Western Conference by delivering two of their best offensive performances of the season over the last week.

There's plenty more to be gained if they can keep it up over their final four games.

The Mavericks take their surging offense into the opener of a home-and-home series against the Southwest Division rival New Orleans Hornets on Friday night in Dallas, where the clubs continue their fights for position in the tightly packed West race.

Dallas (47-31) virtually assured it would make the playoffs by shooting 60.0 percent from the field and making a season-high 15 3-pointers in a 140-116 rout of Phoenix on Sunday, then clinched its ninth straight postseason berth with a 130-101 win over Utah on Wednesday night. Those are the two highest point totals of the season for the Mavericks, averaging 102.1 points in 2008-09.

With the playoff spot wrapped up, the Mavericks have turned their attention toward avoiding an eighth-place finish and a first-round meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers, who have clinched the No. 1 seed.

"If we continue to win, we have a real opportunity to move up," coach Rick Carlisle said. "So that is the challenge."

Carlisle's club is tied with Utah for seventh place and sits one game behind sixth-place New Orleans (48-30) as the teams enter this crucial home-and-home set.

The Hornets have dropped three of their last four and are 7-7 since March 14. They know that these games will go a long way toward determining their playoff seeding.

"It's like a playoff series with Dallas," forward David West said after a 105-100 home loss to Phoenix on Wednesday night. "We have two games with them, with huge implications. We need to try to go down to Dallas and steal one. We just need to try to pick up wins."

The Hornets have won both their games against the Mavericks this season, the teams' first meetings since New Orleans beat Dallas in five games in the first round of the playoffs last spring.

All-Star point guard Chris Paul has averaged 26.3 points, 11.1 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 3.0 steals while shooting 49.5 percent from the field in 11 games against the Mavericks since the start of last season, including playoffs. New Orleans is 8-3 in those contests.

Paul has been especially effective against Dallas this season, averaging 30.0 points, 13.0 assists, 7.0 rebounds and 4.0 steals.

While Jason Kidd has done a stellar job running Dallas' offense lately, he's struggled to contain Paul and has averaged just 10.9 points and 6.4 assists in nine games against New Orleans since the Mavericks acquired him from New Jersey last February.

Kidd's averaged 10.0 points and 4.5 assists while going 6-for-20 (30.0 percent) from the field against the Hornets in 2008-09.

Kidd had 10 assists and Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 points while going 12-for-18 from the field Wednesday. Jason Terry added 21 points with five 3-pointers off the bench as the Dallas reserves outscored Utah's 63-30.

"Knowing the importance of each game and the sense of urgency, we treat every game like it's a Game 7 playoff game," Terry said. "We go out there and fight and scrap and do whatever it takes to win. We've got each other's back."

The Hornets didn't get the same production from their reserves in their last game. They had only 11 bench points to the Suns' 28.

"We need big-time help off the bench and we just aren't getting it," coach Byron Scott said. "To win, we need to have six or seven guys come out and play hard, especially in the Western Conference."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: April 12, 2009


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