Jason Kidd has commanded most of the attention in Dallas since his return to the Mavericks last week. Meanwhile, reigning MVP Dirk Nowitzki has put together one of his best stretches of the season.

Nowitzki and the Mavericks (38-20) look to bounce back from a tough loss to a division rival as they host the slumping Sacramento Kings on Friday.

Nowitzki scored 28 points and added six rebounds in Dallas' 97-94 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, going 17-of-21 from the foul line. Nowitzki, who had just six points in the first half, tied the game at 94 on a fadeaway jumper with 1:36 remaining, but he missed two shots in the final 30 seconds, as Dallas had its three-game winning streak snapped.

Kidd had seven points and 10 assists in his fifth game since returning to the Mavericks after an 11-year absence.

"I thought we had some good looks, maybe a foul here or there," said Kidd, who is averaging 8.0 points and 11.0 assists while shooting 50.0 percent since being acquired from the New Jersey Nets. "But at the end of the game, we had our chances."

Josh Howard and Brandon Bass each added 16 for the Mavericks, who missed a chance to pull percentage points behind the Spurs for the Southwest Division lead. The loss overshadowed another outstanding game by Nowitzki, who has averaged 31.0 points on 50.7 percent shooting the last seven games.

Nowitzki is averaging 23.9 points in 34 career games against the Kings and 28.3 in the last six home games against them.

Dallas has won eight straight at home over Sacramento. The Mavericks, who play 10 of their next 13 at the American Airlines Center, are 24-3 at home.

Friday is the finale of a tough five-game road trip for the Kings, who opened the stretch with a one-point overtime win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Feb. 22, then proceeded to lose the next three. Sacramento's 123-117 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday was its sixth in the last nine games.

Brad Miller and Beno Udrih each scored 25 points and Ron Artest added 23. Miller also had 13 rebounds and six assists, but another poor defensive effort dropped the Kings to 9-21 on the road.

"We allowed a team averaging 90 points to score 123," Sacramento coach Reggie Theus said. "We gave up 40 points in the first quarter and 34 in the third. We have to rededicate ourselves to defense."

Sacramento's defense already is one of the worst in the league, giving up 103.1 points per game, but the Kings have allowed an average of 114.3 points during the road trip.

"We can't win on the road if you can't stop anybody," Theus said.

Sacramento and Dallas have split the first two meetings, with each winning at home. The Kings' 122-120 win on Jan. 14 snapped a six-game losing streak against the Mavericks. Kevin Martin scored 39 points and hit the game-winner with 2.4 seconds remaining in that game.


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