With Dirk Nowitzki providing a lift in his return, the Dallas
Mavericks didn’t have much trouble continuing their home success
the last time out.
The Mavericks now appear to be in good position to sweep a
three-game homestand as they go for their 13th win in 14 home
meetings against the Toronto Raptors on Friday night.
After missing a 106-93 victory over visiting Milwaukee on
Saturday because of a stomach virus, Nowitzki put together a
complete effort in his return with 20 points, six rebounds and five
assists in a 105-91 win over Memphis on Wednesday.
”I didn’t feel great Monday in practice,” said Nowitzki, who
helped Dallas (15-10) to its fifth win in seven games. ”We didn’t
have a game for another two days, so by Tuesday I was a lot better
and (Wednesday) I felt fine.”
The Mavericks have certainly been more than fine at home,
winning 11 of 13 this season. Only Oklahoma City has a better home
record in the Western Conference.
Nowitzki has shot 58.8 percent while posting four straight
20-point performances at the American Airlines Center. The 11-time
All-Star has also averaged 25.8 points while hitting 8 of 12 from
3-point range in his last four home games against the Raptors
Monta Ellis, who had 16 of his 18 points in the second half
Wednesday, has scored 24.2 per game while hitting 15 of 31 from
beyond the arc in his last nine games versus Toronto.
The Mavericks rank in the league’s top five with 106.5 points
per game and a 48.5 field-goal percentage at home, and they’ve also
limited opponents to 88.7 points on 40.9 percent shooting over a
three-game winning streak there.
Dallas, which is 5-0 against visiting East teams, could keep
rolling versus a Toronto club that has lost 12 of 13 visits by an
average of 11.1 points.
The Raptors, though, have been competitive since trading Rudy
Gay to Sacramento on Dec. 9. They nearly pulled out a third
straight victory Wednesday before Kemba Walker’s buzzer-beater gave
visiting Charlotte a 104-102 overtime win.
”We need to be more precise and have more attention to
detail,” coach Dwane Casey said after his team left Walker alone
on the final possession.
DeMar DeRozan finished with 30 points, while Kyle Lowry had 17
and Amir Johnson added 10 and 13 rebounds.
DeRozan has scored 23.4 per game but missed 16 of 18 from
3-point range in the last five without Gay, who was averaging 19.4
points with the Raptors. In the most recent meeting in Dallas,
DeRozan had 24 points, seven assists and six rebounds in a 109-104
loss Nov. 7, 2012.
Nowitzki was not available for the Mavericks while missing the
first 27 games last season following right knee surgery.
Johnson contributed 18 points and 11 rebounds in that contest,
and he’s averaged 18.6 points on 69.0 percent shooting with 9.6
boards in the last seven overall.
The Raptors, who begin a four-game trip, have won four of six
away from home. They’ve dropped 20 of 26 overall to the