Hornets-Mavericks Preview

There’s little left for the Dallas Mavericks to play for in

their season finale after missing the playoffs for the first time

in 13 years. It remains to be seen whether pride – and the chance

to avoid a losing record – are much motivation.

The host Mavericks look to close a disappointing season with

their fifth win in seven games Wednesday night against the

struggling New Orleans Hornets in the teams’ second meeting in four

days.

Dallas (40-41) will be trying to avoid finishing under .500 for

the first time since going 40-42 in 1999-2000 – also the last time

it didn’t play in the postseason. Given how they’ve been playing

recently, though, the Mavericks may have found inspiration in that

goal.

“Us not making the playoffs doesn’t mean we can’t lay it all out

there and fight to the end,” veteran Vince Carter told the team’s

official website. “We did it for our fans and our organization.

Each individual knew we were going to lay it out there for each

other and for the good of the team, and it starts with the old

guys. The old guys are still playing big minutes and battling.”

That was the case Monday when Carter scored 22 points and Dirk

Nowitzki had 26, but Dallas failed to win its third straight and

fell 103-97 to Memphis.

Carter, averaging 13.5 points on the season, has scored 19.5 per

game over the past four. Nowitzki has averaged 22.0 – 4.7 above his

season mark – in the same span.

Nowitzki has shot 53.5 percent in his last 16 games, but his

season scoring average is his lowest since his 1998-99 rookie

campaign.

One player coach Rick Carlisle expects more out of Wednesday is

leading scorer O.J. Mayo, who has had a strong season but drew

Carlisle’s ire by scoring two points on 1-of-6 shooting against the

Grizzlies.

“He just had a bad night; I guess I will write it off to that.

But I will tell you what, if I was playing against my former team,

I’d come out ready to go at them. But that’s just me,” Carlisle

said of Mayo, who is averaging 15.4 points but has not scored in

double figures in seven of the past 10 games.

“He didn’t compete tonight. … In the biggest game of the year,

an opportunity to be a winning team, for him to show up like he did

tonight I was shocked.”

Dallas certainly showed up ready in the first half against New

Orleans (27-54) on Sunday, outscoring the Hornets 62-40 en route to

a 107-89 victory. Nowitzki had 19 points to become the 17th player

in history to score 25,000, while Shawn Marion had 21 points, seven

rebounds and six assists as the Mavs moved to 2-1 in the season

series.

Ryan Anderson scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds – eight

offensive – for New Orleans, though he went 8 for 20 from the field

as his team shot 37.9 percent. It was the fourth straight loss for

the Hornets, who have been idle since that game.

“Obviously I didn’t have everybody ready to play today, and

that’s solely on me,” coach Monty Williams said. “I can’t grow up

for the players we have. We have a lot of guys who need to grow

up.”

Williams’ team will finish with the second-worst record in the

Western Conference after posting the worst last season at

21-45.