Raptors-Mavericks Preview

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

(9-14).

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

Mavericks.