NBA.com Daily Confidential

After stumbling out of the gate to start the season, the Dallas Mavericks have gotten back on track and are one of the hottest teams in the league. This is not good news for the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, who have not beaten the Mavericks in seven years.

Dallas looks to continue its stellar play and win its 18th straight game over New Orleans/Oklahoma City as they meet at American Airlines Center on Saturday.

The Mavericks (8-4) lost their first four games of the season, but have rallied to win eight straight games - tied with Utah for the longest win streak in the league.

The defending Western Conference champions avenged their season-opening 97-91 home loss to San Antonio with a 95-92 victory Friday over the Spurs.

``It was definitely a big game,'' said Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 14 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter. ``They beat us in our home opener and we didn't want to go down 0-2 against them.''

Jason Terry had 14 points and a season-high 10 assists, and Josh Howard added 12 points in his return to the lineup after missing the last eight games with a left ankle sprain.

Nowitzki has consecutive 30-point games for the first time all season, and with 10 rebounds Friday, he has recorded seven straight double-doubles. The 7-foot German is second in the league with 10 double-doubles this season.

Nowitzki lost his first-ever meeting against the Hornets (8-5), a 104-99 defeat on Nov. 17, 1999, at Charlotte, but he has since led the Mavericks to 17 straight victories over them.

Nowitzki averaged 26 points and shot 56.3 percent (9-of-16) from 3-point range in four games against the Hornets last season, as Dallas reached the 100-point mark in two of those games. Meanwhile, New Orleans/Oklahoma City has broken the 100-point mark in just two of its last 14 games against the Mavericks.

Dallas has won three straight home games this season, and has yet to lose at the American Airlines Center against the Hornets, winning all seven meetings since the arena opened in 2001.

New Orleans/Oklahoma City has lost its last two games overall and four of its last six road games.

The Hornets lost to Minnesota 86-79 on Friday as they had season lows in points and field goal percentage (33.8 percent).

New Orleans/Oklahoma City was just 3 for 17 (17.6 percent) from 3-point range, after making just 1-of-14 (7.1 percent) from beyond the arc in its 92-83 loss Wednesday to Phoenix.

``The ball just wasn't going in the hole for us and when that happens, we have to get stops on the defensive end and that just wasn't happening,'' Desmond Mason said. ``We didn't push the ball, we didn't catch it or swing it from side to side or shoot it well.''

Chris Paul was the only Hornets starter in double figures on Friday, finishing with 18 points on just 4-of-11 shooting with six turnovers.

Paul averaged 19 points on 62.2 percent shooting against Dallas last season.

Peja Stojakovic was 3-of-15 and matched a season low with eight points Friday, and has not played against the Mavericks since March 24, 2005, when he played for Sacramento. However, Stojakovic hit six 3-pointers and scored 38 points in his last game against the Mavericks.


Copyright 2006 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited