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News » Mavericks-Cavaliers Preview 2009-11-28

Mavericks-Cavaliers Preview 2009-11-28

Mavericks-Cavaliers Preview 2009-11-28The Dallas Mavericks can't seem to do anything wrong on the road these days.

Last season against the Cleveland Cavaliers, they couldn't do anything right.

The Mavericks look to win a sixth straight road game for the first time since their record-setting 2006-07 season Saturday night against the Cavaliers, who have historically frustrated Dirk Nowitzki.

Dallas (12-4) has been without Josh Howard for all but three games as he recovers from ankle surgery, but it's shown no ill effects from missing a player who averaged 18.0 points in 2008-09.

Nowitzki has averaged a career-high 27.1 points through the season's first month, scoring more than 30 five times. He had 31 in three quarters Friday at Indiana before sitting out the fourth quarter of a 113-92 win, which came two days after a 130-99 victory in Houston.

"I don't really know what happened, but our offense really seems to click, really everybody is shooting the ball," Nowitzki said.

The Mavericks haven't won six in a row away from home since a 6-0 road trip from March 18-27, 2007, during their franchise-best 67-15 regular season.

Nowitzki should be well rested as Dallas heads to Cleveland for the first time since a 102-74 loss on March 29, when LeBron James scored 24 points and Mo Williams added 22 for the Cavaliers.

Nowitzki scored 20 in that defeat and shot 7 of 23, still a step up from when he finished with a season-low eight points in a 100-81 home loss to Cleveland on Nov. 3. Nowitzki is shooting 34.4 percent in his last five games against the Cavaliers, and his 20.4-point career average versus Cleveland is his second-lowest against any opponent.

His field-goal percentage (42.0) is by far his worst.

If the Cavaliers (11-5) are to continue holding down Nowitzki, they'll need to defend him far tighter than they guarded Gerald Wallace on Friday in Charlotte. Wallace finished with game highs of 31 points and 14 rebounds and Cleveland lost 94-87 despite the return of Shaquille O'Neal to its starting lineup.

The Cavaliers entered the game as the NBA's best 3-point shooting team but shot 6 of 28 (a season-low 21.5 percent) while Wallace - 3 of 21 from beyond the arc coming in - went 3 of 7 for the Bobcats.

Cleveland's larger concern is the trend of stagnant play with O'Neal on the floor. The Cavaliers went 5-1 and averaged 102.0 points while shooting 49.8 percent in the six games O'Neal missed with a shoulder injury, but are 6-4 and scoring 96.1 points on 45.6 percent shooting when the veteran center has played.

"While he was out, things just flowed because we were playing loose," said James, who had six turnovers Friday and is averaging a career-high 3.9. "I think it's still an adjustment period. With our full lineup we haven't really had much playing time. We haven't had enough games with him in the lineup for coach to figure out how to adjust and what's best for us to play."

O'Neal averaged 20.0 points and shot 70.6 percent in his last three games versus Dallas while with Phoenix last season.

"He's going to be our guy," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown told the NBA's official Web site. "He's going to be there for our playoff run, so we've just got to get used to whoever's out on the floor because he's going to be there."

Dallas' Jason Terry, the reigning sixth man of the year, is averaging 18.1 points but has been held to 8.7 on 24.2 percent shooting during the Mavericks' three-game losing streak to Cleveland.

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Added: November 28, 2009


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