After failing to defend their own court in the first two attempts, the reigning NBA champion Dallas Mavericks seek a fourth straight victory in Big D tonight versus the New Orleans Hornets.

The Mavericks dropped home games to Miami and Denver during their three-game funk to kick off the new season and have since won three straight at American Airlines Center. The Mavs are coming off Thursday's 93-71 road loss at San Antonio in which they shot 35 percent from the floor and went just 1-of-19 from beyond the arc. Dirk Nowitzki was limited to six points on 3-of-11 shooting for Dallas, which had won three of four contests and is in the midst of playing a franchise-high 18 games during the month of January.

"San Antonio's energy was better to start the game in the first half and that was the difference in the game," Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said. "We struggled, but their competitive level was higher and really the decisive part was the first half."

Jason Terry led the Mavericks with 12 points and Delonte West netted 10. Dallas even had a 52-42 advantage on the boards. Mavericks guard Jason Kidd is expected to miss Saturday's game with a strained lower back suffered early on against the rival Spurs. Nowitzki needs 47 points for 23,000 in his career, while West is four games shy of 400.

New Orleans will try to halt a season-high five-game slide tonight and opened the truncated season with consecutive victories. It has lost two in a row on the road and will also visit Denver on this brief trek.

The Hornets suffered a 96-88 loss to the Nuggets last night in the Big Easy, as Greivis Vasquez ended with 16 points and both Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry scored 15 points.

"Playing on a team where almost none of the guys were here last year, besides a couple, it's tough. Chemistry is something that a coach can't teach," said Landry.

New Orleans shot 47 percent for the game and committed 17 turnovers for 24 Denver points. Chris Kaman added six points and 12 rebounds in a losing cause. In injury news for the Hornets, guard Trevor Ariza (groin) and forward DaJuan Summers (knee) both missed Friday's game are uncertain for tonight. Guard Eric Gordon, who came over in the Chris Paul deal with the Los Angeles Clippers, is already out with a balky knee.

New Orleans and Dallas split four meetings a year ago, with each team holding serve as the host. The Hornets have lost five in a row and 18 of their previous 19 trips to Big D.