Preview: Mavs try to continue dominance over streaking Kings
Earl K. Sneed previews the Dallas Mavericks' Monday night home matchup, as the Mavs try to continue their home-court dominance over the visiting Sacramento Kings.
Preview: Kings (7-12) at Mavericks (10-10)
Mavs try to continue dominance over streaking Kings
After battling their way through half of the toughest stretch of the season thus far, the Mavericks (10-10) will try to take advantage of their only home game during a seven-game stretch. They’ll also try to improve upon a 6-3 mark at home coming into Monday night, while they await the return of 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki from his battle to get back onto the floor following arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 19.
“Well, winning home games is important. It really is the foundation of building a winning, championship-type team,” five-time NBA champion and 38-year-old new addition Derek Fisher explained heading into Monday night. “You have to be the type of team that when teams come in your building they now they have to play supernatural basketball in order to have a chance to win. And so, we have to protect our home court, in particular because we’re going out on the road so many times over the next month and winning our home games is gonna be ultra important.”
Returning from their road trip with a 2-1 mark and rallying from a 112-90 defeat last Wednesday night in Los Angeles to the Clippers with two wins in Phoenix and Houston, the Mavericks will attempt to seize their first three-game winning streak since an unbeaten homestand from Nov. 3-7. The Mavs will also try to continue their dominance at home over the Kings (7-12), carrying into Monday night the league’s third-longest active home winning streak of 16 straight over the Sacramento squad when the two meet in Dallas.
All told, including the playoffs, the Mavericks have won 20 of the last 21 meetings between the two teams. But the Kings journey to Dallas looking for back-to-back road wins for the first time since March 2011, while hoping to extend their own three-game winning streak overall.
Meanwhile, the Mavs hope to continue to ride the coattails of leading scorer O.J. Mayo until Nowitzki returns, after the sharpshooter and league’s ninth-highest scorer tied a career-high with 40 points in a thrilling 116-109 win in Houston on Saturday night to get the Dallas team back to .500.
With Nowitzki already sidelined, four-time All-Star Shawn Marion ruled out due to a strained right groin and center Chris Kaman hobbled by a sprained left ankle, Mayo stepped up with his best overall performance of the season, adding eight rebounds and connecting on 15-of-26 from the field and 6-of-9 from 3-point range.
“His confidence level right now and his belief in himself and understanding his role for this team right now with Dirk being out and (Saturday) with Shawn being out, Chris banged up … and so, O.J. really took on the role of basically putting us on his back offensively. And he’s playing at an unbelievable level right now, and I think he should be proud of the work that he’s put in and thankful to have this opportunity to continue to get better at both ends of the floor,” Fisher said of his backcourt mate.
“What he’s showing over the first 20 games is that he has the ability to carry a team at times,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle added. “It was really impressive (Saturday). He’s shown a strong-willed mentality and is really hungry to win.”
Mayo again may be asked to lead the charge Monday night, while Marion’s status remains unclear. And after watching his team lose a 19-point lead in Houston before staging a comeback late from 11 points down, Mayo will try to help his young team continue to develop before hitting the road once again.
“It was just will, man. We all imposed our will on the game and we wanted to win,” Mayo said after the comeback win. “This was a very important game, because it was a division game, it was against a team that was just ahead of us in the standings and we wanted to get back to .500 going back home before we go back on the road. So, we put a lot of importance on this game and we wanted to make sure we came in here and got the win.
“We’re growing,” he added. “It’s a young team that you see growing, jelling and getting better as time is going. We’ve just got to build off it. It’s one game, we’ll enjoy it (for one night). ... We had a (19-point) lead and blew that, so there’s some areas we can get better in and just continue getting better.”
Note: The Mavs return home for one game against the Sacramento Kings on Monday night before journeying back on the road for a three-game road trip. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.