Mavericks-Pacers Preview

The Dallas Mavericks are looking to bounce back following a brutal offensive performance.

Putting points on the board could prove difficult without their leading scorer.

Monta Ellis is listed as doubtful heading into Sunday night’s road matchup against the Indiana Pacers, who can’t seem to get it together.

The Mavericks (45-28) are hoping to avoid a fourth loss in five games after falling 94-76 at San Antonio on Friday. Ellis scored a team best-tying 10 points before exiting with a right calf injury midway through the third quarter.

Averaging 19.1 points, Ellis has played in 248 consecutive games – including the playoffs.

"That’s going to make it hard. He’s our leading scorer, so that’s going to make it more difficult," coach Rick Carlisle told the team’s official website. "We’ll have to adjust."

Carlisle needs Dirk Nowitzki to find his touch. He’s averaged 12.3 points on 36.7 percent shooting during the team’s 1-3 slump.

As Nowitzki was held to seven points Friday, the Mavs finished with their second-lowest scoring total of the season and dropped to 10-20 when posting 100 points or fewer. However, they’re going up against a Pacers team that’s allowed an average of 106.6 points in losing seven of eight.

While Dallas is seventh in the Western Conference, Indiana (31-41) is within one game of Boston for the East’s eighth and final playoff spot.

The Pacers snapped a six-game skid with a 103-101 win at Washington on Wednesday behind George Hill’s layup with three seconds to go, but their woes resumed the following night in a 111-107 loss at Milwaukee. Indiana cut what was a 23-point deficit to two with 5:42 remaining.

"I’m proud of our fight and how they got back into it but you can’t start that way," coach Frank Vogel said. "We have to play better defense and we have to play better offense in the first quarter. If we do those two things we’ll be OK. We just have to be assertive."

The Pacers have been outscored in the first quarter in 10 consecutive games, including 34-15 on Thursday. They’ve scored no more than 15 points in the opening period in three straight contests.

"We have to come out more focused," said George Hill, averaging 26.5 points in the last two games. "You have to be more prepared when you’re out there, follow the game plans, and you have to want it a little bit more."

Indiana now returns home, where it has lost four in a row for its longest skid since Jan. 16-29, 2010. The Pacers haven’t dropped five straight on their own court since Jan. 19-Feb. 5, 2008.

The Pacers are 4-9 at home against West opponents, though the only win in their last five such games came against NBA-best Golden State on Feb. 22. The Mavs had won each of their first 13 road games against the East before losing their most recent one, 104-87 at No. 1 seed Atlanta on Feb. 25.

Indiana won the first meeting 111-100 in Dallas on Nov. 24. The Pacers shot 13 of 26 from 3-point range, overcoming the absences of Hill, C.J. Watson, Roy Hibbert and David West.

West sat out Thursday with an illness, but he’s expected to return for this game. All-Star forward Paul George (broken leg) isn’t quite ready to play, and Rodney Stuckey could miss a fourth consecutive game due to a sore left calf.