Knicks-Mavericks Preview

With their offense misfiring since a six-game win streak, the Dallas Mavericks are on the verge of losing three straight for only the second time in 21 months.

The Mavericks, however, may not need to kick things into high gear Wednesday night against the New York Knicks, who have found virtually no success on the road this season and may be without an ailing Carmelo Anthony.

During its recent winning streak, Dallas (10-5) – which leads the NBA with an average of 109.3 points – scored 118.6 per game, though that number was significantly bumped by three contests ending with point totals of 123, 131 and 140.

Dallas, which beat Philadelphia by 53 and the Los Angeles Lakers by 34 in that span, then ran into a wall Saturday at Houston in a 95-92 loss. The difference came from 3-point range, where the teams shot a combined 21 for 81 with 15 of those 3s made by the Rockets.

After being held below 100 points for only the third time this season, the Mavs returned to that plateau Monday at home against Indiana but managed only one field goal over the final 7:17 to walk away with a 111-100 loss.

"You can’t always try to outscore the other team every single night," said center Tyson Chandler, the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2011-12. "Some nights, you’re going to rely on your defense."

Monta Ellis scored 24 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 22 points and 11 rebounds for Dallas, which lost three straight games just once last season – the club’s only skid of that length since February 2013.

A defense that sits in the middle of the league rankings at both 99.6 points allowed per game and 45.1 percent shooting may not have to contend with Anthony, the NBA scoring champion in ’12-13 who is averaging 23.2 points this season.

Anthony, who admitted to dealing with knee pain after a Nov. 18 loss at Milwaukee, did not play in the second half of Monday’s 91-86 loss at Houston because of back spasms.

"Back spasms are really tough to deal with," Knicks coach Derek Fisher said of Anthony, who didn’t talk to the media after the game reportedly because he was in so much pain. "He felt very uncomfortable, and we have to see."

Anthony didn’t practice Tuesday with the team in Dallas and is listed as doubtful.

Without their star forward, the Knicks (4-11) could be hard-pressed to duplicate their most recent road performance against Dallas, which had beaten New York in three straight home meetings before posting its lowest point total of last season in a 92-80 loss Jan. 5.

The Knicks of this season in no way resemble the team that dominated that night, losing all six of their road games since winning their first in Cleveland on Oct. 30.

The assumption some may have about New York’s January win in Dallas is that Chandler’s presence contributed to the stout defense, but the center was working his way back from injury and played less than five minutes.

New York shipped Chandler back to Dallas in an offseason trade that brought in point guard Jose Calderon, who missed the first 13 games with a strained calf and has totaled 12 points and eight assists in the last two games.

The Knicks and Mavericks split their two meetings in each of the last three seasons. The most recent ended with Dallas prevailing 110-108 at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 24 despite Anthony’s 44 points.