Dirk Nowitzki says that a loss to a winless team helped unite the Dallas Mavericks.
Nowitzki and the Mavericks seek a sixth consecutive victory Friday at home against a Utah Jazz team they have defeated eight straight times with the German in the lineup.
Dallas (8-4) fell below .500 with last Tuesday's 120-105 defeat at New Orleans. The Pelicans posted what remains their only victory despite losing star Anthony Davis to a hip injury that night in a result that left the Mavericks frustrated.
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Nowitzki's team bounced back the next night with a 118-108 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in a heated atmosphere in DeAndre Jordan's first game in Dallas since he spurned the Mavericks. Dallas hasn't looked back since.
“I thought that loss actually brought us together,” Nowitzki said. “I thought we played extremely hard the next night against the Clippers. I think our defense has been solid.”
The Mavericks are limiting foes to 39.9 percent shooting in this win streak after that figure was at 44.2 previously. They capped a 3-0 trip by holding Boston to 41.3 percent in Wednesday's 106-102 victory, rallying from 18 points down. Nowitzki scored 23 points.
“It's a great way to end the road trip and now we've got one game at home and we've got to get ready for that one,” coach Rick Carlisle said.
The Mavs have won eight straight over the Jazz (6-5) with Nowitzki, who sat out the last time these teams met in Utah's 109-92 home win April 13. He shot 59.4 percent in those eight games. Dallas also has won nine in a row at home in this series.
It may be easy to defend Utah, averaging 95.3 points to rank ahead of only winless Philadelphia. The Jazz average 95.1 possessions per 48 minutes for the league's second-slowest tempo.
Utah showed that it is capable of an offensive outburst with a 34-point fourth quarter in Wednesday's 93-89 win over Toronto. That matched a season high for any quarter.
“In the fourth quarter, we started attacking the rim and we got open shots and they just went in,” said guard Rodney Hood, who scored 16 points.
Derrick Favors recorded his fourth double-double with 18 points and 11 boards for the Jazz, who are seeking their first three-game win streak.
Utah led the NBA with 364.9 passes per game a season ago while averaging 95.1 points. The Jazz are looking for quicker shots in 2015-16, averaging 324.0 passes.
“I think our spacing was good, we got shots,” coach Quin Snyder said. “To me, that's the main thing. If you can get to the line or get an open shot, great, but just to make sure you get a good look.”
Jazz center Rudy Gobert is averaging 3.2 blocks to rank second in the league. He'll match up with Zaza Pachulia, who leads the Mavs with six double-doubles after he had 14 points and 12 boards against the Celtics.
“He's been one of our key guys,” Carlisle said.
Little-used Dallas forward Jeremy Evans may play against Utah for the first time after he spent his previous five seasons with the Jazz.