Mavericks-Nets Preview

With the trade rumors behind them, the New Jersey Nets are

having no trouble moving forward.

After matching their victory total from last season, the Nets

look to win three in a row for the first time in almost two years

while trying to avoid a fifth straight loss to the visiting Dallas

Mavericks on Saturday night.

Hours after owner Mikhail Prokhorov ended trade talks with

Denver and Detroit on a deal that would have landed star Carmelo

Anthony in New Jersey, the Nets (12-31) snapped a six-game skid

with a 103-95 win over Utah on Wednesday.

Two nights later, New Jersey put itself in position to surpass

its win total from last season with an 89-74 victory over


After winning back-to-back games once in 2009-10, the Nets have

done it three times this season. New Jersey has not won three

straight since a four-game run Jan. 31-Feb. 7, 2009.

Though New Jersey has not beaten Dallas since December 2008, its

recent confidence boost could help end that drought.

Nets players admitted the trade talks were becoming a

distraction. When Prokhorov announced the deal was off, it seemed a

collective sigh of relief fell over the club.

“It becomes a distraction at some point when it’s constantly

talked about,” said guard Devin Harris, who appeared to be headed

to Denver. “All we can do is focus and try and improve our


That’s shown the last two games with the Nets shooting 49.6

percent while holding the Jazz and Pistons to 84.5 points on 37.5

percent shooting.

Brook Lopez had 15 points while Kris Humphries added 11 with 12

rebounds and Anthony Morrow scored 10 after missing 17 games with a

hamstring injury.

Lopez scored 24 points, Morrow had 21 and Humphries 16 with 13

rebounds in a 102-89 loss at Dallas on Dec. 9.

Dallas (27-15) has averaged 107.0 points on 53.0 percent

shooting during its four-game winning streak against the Nets.

However, the Mavericks have averaged 90.6 points while losing seven

of eight overall.

One night after snapping a six-game skid with a 109-100 win over

the Lakers, the Mavericks shot a dismal 35.6 percent in Thursday’s

82-77 loss at Chicago.

“I don’t care how much defense you play, at some point you have

to put the ball in the basket,” guard Jason Terry told the

Mavericks’ official website.

Dirk Nowitzki had a team-high 19 points but has averaged 18.0 –

5.4 below his season average – in four games since missing nine

with a knee injury.

“Just gotta get my legs under me and just work my way back into

it,” Nowitzki said. “It’s probably gonna take a few more games but

it’s improving.”

Nowitzki has enjoyed playing in New Jersey where he’s averaged

27.2 points the last six trips.

While the Nets opted not to acquire Anthony, the Mavericks could

be close to signing veteran forward Peja Stojakovic after he agreed

to a buyout with Toronto on Wednesday.

Dallas can use help at the small forward position after Caron

Butler suffered a season-ending knee injury on New Year’s Day.

“With Stojakovic, you’re talking about one of the great

shooters,” Mavericks coach Randy Carlisle said.

Plagued by knee problems, Stojakovic averaged 8.1 points in

eight games with the Raptors this season.