NBA.com Daily Confidential

Even when Dirk Nowitzki has an off night, the Dallas Mavericks still can rout an opponent.

The streaking Mavericks look for their 13th straight win and other season-series sweep of the Washington Wizards when the teams meet at the Verizon Center on Monday.

Nowitzki shot just 4-of-15 from the field Friday in his return to action after being forced to leave a 117-98 victory over Toronto due to a bruised right retina two nights earlier. His poor shooting didn't affect Dallas, which opened up a double-digit lead in the first six minutes of a 109-90 win over Sacramento.

Dallas hasn't even trailed in its last four games and is two wins shy of its franchise-record winning streak set when it started the 2002-03 season with 14 straight victories.

``It's not always going to be like this,'' Dallas coach Avery Johnson warned. ``We've hit a stretch where we're getting away (from opponents) with some leads now.''

Against the Kings, Nowitzki finished with 18 points despite his poor effort from the field and said he felt no ill effects from his eye injury.

``I had a lot of good looks tonight, especially in the first half, but I really couldn't get anything going,'' he said.

Another strong effort by Josh Howard was a major reason Dallas coasted. The forward scored 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting two nights after he made 8-of-15 shots for 26 points.

``Josh has been key to our rapid starts,'' Johnson said. ``Josh has been coming out and doing a good job of moving the basketball.''

Dallas has showcased an attack that features five players who average in double figures along with center Erick Dampier, the NBA's leader in field-goal percentage at 67.7 percent. The depth is a major reason why the Mavs have moved into the Southwest Division lead after an 0-4 start that had the Mavericks in last place.

``It's great for us to win even we he (Dirk) has an off night,'' forward Jerry Stackhouse said. ``We've got guys that can step up and play big.''

Dallas has won six straight against Washington, drilling 14 3-pointers in a 107-80 home victory on Nov. 21. The Mavs have averaged 114.6 points in the last five meetings while shooting 49.0 percent on 3-pointers.

One positive for the Wizards for Monday's rematch is that they'll be at home. They fell to 0-8 on the road after a dismal 112-94 loss at Chicago on Saturday.

Washington trailed by as many as 30 points and coach Eddie Jordan called the team's road woes a ``sort of a mystery'' and ``a work in progress.''

All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas has shined at home and struggled on the road. Arenas is averaging 33.1 points on 49.2 percent shooting in the Verizon Center compared to 17.6 points on 25.6 percent shooting on the road.

``This is the first time in my career that I felt like I'm not doing anything out there on the road,'' Arenas said. ``At home, it's good. On the road, it's a different story.''

Arenas made just 3-of-11 shots for 10 points Friday one night after he had 33 points and 10 assists in a 121-109 home victory over Charlotte.


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