Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks entered their Christmas
break with a needed win.
The San Antonio Spurs didn’t have nearly as good a holiday.
Looking to build on their latest effort, the Mavericks try to
avoid a sixth consecutive loss to the visiting Spurs as these
Southwest Division rivals meet for the first time Thursday
Dallas (16-12) had dropped back-to-back games and four of six
before winning 111-104 at Houston on Monday. Nowitzki led the way
with 31 points, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter.
“You don’t ever want to sit on two days at Christmas with a
three-game losing streak, so we definitely wanted to have this
one,” Nowitzki told the team’s official website. “We competed and
everybody who was out there played hard.”
After undergoing knee surgery and missing the first 27 games of
2012-13, the 35-year-old Nowitzki appears to be back to his old
self. He is averaging a team-leading 21.5 points, 4.2 more than
“The driving the ball is what’s missing a little now,” Nowitzki
said. “I do a lot of one or two dribble and then up, but I want to
get back to driving some more to the basket and get to the foul
line. I don’t think I’m in ’11 shape, but compared to the last two
years I feel a lot better. The right knee is great and I feel
The Mavericks could use a vintage performance from Nowitzki as
they try to snap their recent woes against the Spurs (22-7). Dallas
has dropped nine of 11 in the series, including five straight by an
average of 17.4 points.
Nowitzki has been held to 13.6 per game and 35.9 percent
shooting during that skid. However, he did score 21 and pull down
11 rebounds in a 92-91 loss at San Antonio on March 14, their last
The first-place Spurs look to get back on track after falling
111-98 to Houston on Christmas Day. Manu Ginobili scored a
team-high 22 points off the bench but Tony Parker had a season-low
six on 3-of-11 shooting.
“We didn’t play well,” said Parker, whose team is one of only
two yet to lose back-to-back games this season. “Move on to the
next one, it’s the NBA.”
San Antonio allowed the Rockets to shoot 52.3 percent, its
third-highest mark surrendered thus far. The Spurs are 0-6 when
yielding more than 110 points compared to 22-1 when they don’t.
“We just didn’t give very good performances,” coach Gregg
Popovich said. “You can live with that from time to time. Nobody’s
going to play perfect every night. But you can’t combine poor
performances with a lack of physicality and a lack of discipline.
They whipped us. They whipped us good. That’s an embarrassing
Tim Duncan has been held to a combined 20 points on 8-of-27
(29.6 percent) shooting in the last two games.
Monta Ellis is averaging 25.9 points in 10 matchups against San
Antonio since the start of 2009-10, his third-highest mark against
any opposing club. Ellis, averaging 20.6 points, is shooting 50.0
percent at home compared to 42.7 percent on the road.
Dallas has compiled an 11-3 record on its own court. The
Mavericks have won five straight within their division.