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News » Mavericks-Hornets Preview 2009-04-12

Mavericks-Hornets Preview 2009-04-12

Mavericks-Hornets Preview 2009-04-12
Just days after clinching the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Dallas Mavericks have a chance to move into sole possession of the sixth seed.

The Mavericks look to snap a six-game road losing streak against New Orleans on Sunday when they try for a home-and-home series sweep of the Hornets.

After spending nearly seven weeks clinging to the No. 8 seed in the West, Dallas (48-31) appears to be heading into the postseason with some momentum, having won three straight and five of six. Its last two wins have been especially important.

The Mavericks defeated Utah 130-101 on Wednesday to secure their playoff spot and then beat New Orleans 100-92 on Friday to move into a tie with the Hornets (48-31) for the sixth seed with three games remaining for each team.

"It's like our playoffs started early," said Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 25 on Friday.

With the playoffs looming, Nowitzki has heated up, averaging 29.8 points over the last five games.

Sunday is Dallas' final road game, after which it plays Minnesota and Houston to close out the regular season. The Mavericks have lost five of their last seven away from home, averaging 96.4 points during that stretch. They're scoring 113.0 points in the last six overall.

"We've won some nice home games, but our true tests are on the road," Nowitzki said. "How you respond to some adversity on the road? That's really what determines if you're a good team."

The Mavericks have lost their last six visits to New Orleans, including three postseason games in 2007-08 when the Hornets knocked Dallas out in five in the first round. Josh Howard, who also had 25 points on Friday, is averaging only 12.2 points on 31.3 percent shooting during the skid.

This will be the Hornets' final regular season home game before they finish up against Houston and San Antonio. They've been in a slump recently, dropping four of five after allowing opponents to average 102.2 points - almost eight more than their season average.

Friday's loss came despite Chris Paul finishing with 42 points, one shy of his career high. He scored 17 in the fourth quarter to help pull New Orleans - which trailed by as many as 21 - to within four in the final minute, but the Hornets still came up short.

Paul scored 43 in a 111-102 loss to Golden State on April 3, and again didn't receive much support from teammates.

"It's the second time in the last few games where I had 40-something points and we lost," Paul said. "It's not about how I do. It's about how we do."

David West was the only other New Orleans player to score in double figures Friday, finishing with 20 on 8-of-20 shooting. The Hornets were outrebounded 54-38 and had a season-low nine assists - seven from Paul.

The behavior of the Dallas players added to New Orleans coach Byron Scott's irritation after the game. He accused the Southwest Division rival Mavericks of "rubbing it in, showing off, I don't know what you want to call it."

"I'm old school, so it doesn't sit well with me," he said. "I hope it doesn't sit well with our guys."

Paul is averaging 34.0 points against the Mavericks this season as New Orleans has taken two of the three meetings.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: April 12, 2009


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