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Nowitzki Questionable, Mavs Host Clippers
Posted Dec 22 2006 6:21PM
The Dallas Mavericks could be without leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki on Friday when they try to extend their winning streak to six games against the struggling Los Angeles Clippers.
Nowitzki, who leads Dallas (19-7) with 23.4 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, is questionable for the contest due to a sprained left ankle suffered in Wednesday's 103-95 win at Seattle.
``Whenever this happens, at first it scares you, but I've done this before,'' Nowitzki said. ``The docs have told me it's just a sprain and that I'll be OK.''
The power forward sustained the injury after Seattle's Chris Wilcox fell to the floor and his foot hit Nowitzki in the ankle, causing it to roll. X-rays were negative and the Mavericks released a statement Thursday that no MRI was planned.
If the All-Star does not play Friday, it could mean more responsibility for Erick Dampier.
After Nowitzki left Wednesday's game, Dampier matched his season high with 22 points and added a season-best 16 rebounds. The center had 21 total points in the three previous games.
``We challenged (Dampier) at half to step up and he did,'' Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. ``Then we just had efforts from everybody.''
Dampier is second on the team with 8.6 rebounds and has added 9.4 points per game. Both are his highest since averaging career highs of 12.3 points and 12.0 rebounds in 2003-04 with Golden State.
The Mavs hope the start of a four-game homestand will keep their winning streak intact. They are 10-3 at American Airlines Arena this season.
Dallas' five-game run is its longest since a 12-game streak Nov. 9-Dec. 1. The day before starting that streak, the Mavericks lost 103-85 to the Clippers at Staples Center to fall to 0-4 on the season.
The Mavericks are limiting opponents to 89 points per game on the current streak.
Since March 5, 1998, the Mavs are 13-3 at home against the Clippers, but lost the last meeting there, 85-71 on April 19.
The Clippers (10-14) will try to avoid their season-high sixth consecutive defeat. The fell 98-96 to Toronto on Wendesday, when the Raptors' T.J. Ford sank a shot from behind the free-throw line as time expired.
``It was our most disappointing loss of the year,'' Clipper coach Mike Dunleavy said. ``We clearly needed this game, and we didn't respond. I'm really disappointed with our team and the way we're playing right now. There's only one thing that's going to get us out of our slump, and that's by guys coming in and playing harder every game.''
Los Angeles has slumped to only four wins in its last 16 games after starting the season 6-2 with aspirations of competing for its first Pacific Division title. Instead, the Clippers are in fifth place.
Their current five-game losing streak matches a Nov. 21-28 skid. Los Angeles, which is only 1-8 on the road, has not dropped six in a row overall since an eight-game slide from Feb. 4-23, 2005.
Clippers forward Elton Brand, who scored 24 points Wednesday, leads the Clippers with 19.0 per game - down from his career-best 24.7 average from last season.
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