Mark Cuban had plenty to worry about with his team off to its worst start since he bought it in 2000. Insider trading charges have made the Dallas Mavericks' struggles an afterthought for the NBA's highest-profile owner.
The Mavericks aim to overlook the distractions surrounding Cuban, and build on their first win in nearly two weeks on Tuesday night when they visit the Charlotte Bobcats, who have yet to beat Dallas.
Since buying the franchise, Cuban has been a constant presence on the sidelines, and his verbal outbursts at referees, NBA officials and sports reporters have added to his notoriety. He has been fined more than $1 million and suspended for several games by the league for a series of episodes and controversial comments during his tenure.
Cuban's place in the spotlight got a lot bigger on Monday, when federal regulators charged him with insider trading for allegedly using confidential information on a stock sale to avoid more than $750,000 in losses.
Cuban disputed the Securities and Exchange Commission's allegations and said he would contest them.
"I am disappointed that the (SEC) chose to bring this case based upon its enforcement staff's win-at-any-cost ambitions," Cuban said in a statement. "The staff's process was result-oriented, facts be damned. The government's claims are false and they will be proven to be so.''
While that plays out, the Mavericks (3-7) will try to stay focused on basketball as they try to build on one of their strongest performances so far.
Dallas snapped a five-game losing streak and had a season-high point total in its 124-114 overtime victory over New York on Sunday. Dirk Nowitzki had season highs with 39 points and 15 rebounds, and Josh Howard added 31 and 14, also his highest totals of 2008-09.
"We just told ourselves stay with it and get some big stops and offensively keep attacking," said Nowitzki, who said the skid felt like it lasted two or three months. "We had to get off this losing streak, so whatever I had to do, the team told me to keep shooting and play aggressively."
The Mavericks, who have struggled late in games, outscored the Knicks 12-2 in overtime.
"We've been playing some close games and the fourth quarter has been a problem for us," point guard Jason Kidd said. "This is a veteran group so nobody's panicked."
The goal for the Mavericks now is to continue to play at a high level, something that has eluded them over the course of their worst start since going 2-8 in their first 10 games of 1998-99.
"We knew we were better than how we were playing," Jason Terry said on Sunday. "We watched the film and were giving great effort out there, balls just weren't going our way. Tonight could have been the same situation. We get down seven in the last two minutes, but we banded together."
Dallas has had no problem playing to its potential against Charlotte. The Mavericks have won each of the teams' eight previous meetings by an average of 11.8 points, including two last season by a total of 32.
The Bobcats (3-6) have shown signs of improvement in the first five games of their six-game homestand, notching wins over Western Conference contenders New Orleans and Utah. But they're coming off a 90-85 loss to Orlando in which they were outscored 52-42 in the second half.
Charlotte could have an easier time rebounding from that defeat if Jason Richardson can return on Tuesday. The guard, who leads the team with 17.6 points per game, has missed consecutive contests following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
No structural damage was found, and Richardson is day-to-day.
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