Dirk Nowitzki was cooled off the last time out for the Dallas Mavericks and will try to pull his team from a three-game funk Friday against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.
Nowitzki entered Wednesday's 90-84 loss to the sizzling Memphis Grizzlies averaging 25.3 points and 13.3 rebounds in his last three games, but was held to 10 points and four boards in just over 30 minutes of action. He did manage to pass Larry Bird for 21st place on the NBA's all-time field goals made list.
Shawn Marion led the Mavericks with 16 points and Elton Brand provided 12 and six rebounds for a Dallas team mired in a three-game slide following three straight wins and five in six tries. What's worse is that Dallas, which shot 59 percent in the first half, led by as many as 25 points and still lost despite Memphis shooting 37.7 percent.
The Mavs stormed out to a 38-19 lead after the first 12 minutes, then was later held to just five points in the third quarter (24-5). Dallas scored only 29 points over the final 24 minutes and Memphis opened the third quarter on a 20-0 run to take control.
"It's another tough lesson in a season full of tough lessons," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said.
Dallas opened a three-game road trip on a lousy note and fell to 9-20 outside of Big D this season. It will finish the trek Sunday at Houston and is in the thick of playing seven of eight games on the road.
Brooklyn barely got past the New Orleans Hornets in Tuesday's 101-97 victory in the Big Easy. The Nets luckily received a game-high 33 points and eight assists from point guard Deron Williams to win for the fifth time in seven tries. The win halted a two-game slide for the Nets.
"As a team, we got off to a great start in that first half. We've had this problem all season where we've had a quarter or a half that was the complete opposite, and that's kind of what happened tonight," Williams said. "A lot of it was their defense. They really turned their defense up and seemed more focused in the second half. We need to figure out a way to not have those halves and quarters and be able to put teams away early."
Brook Lopez added 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while C.J. Watson filled in for an injured Joe Johnson to record 10 points. Johnson missed his third straight game with a heel issue and is questionable for Friday's game. Johnson is third on the Nets with 17.0 ppg.
The Nets, two games behind New York for the Atlantic lead, went 12-for-20 from behind the arc (60 percent) against the Hornets and have been shooting 46.2 percent from 3-point range in the last six games. Williams was 4-of-8 from downtown and Keith Bogans made all three of his attempts and scored 12 points off the bench. Williams is averaging 22.8 points and 8.4 assists since returning from injury after the All-Star break.
Brooklyn is 20-10 with P.J. Carlesimo as interim coach and has nine sets of back-to-back games left, starting with Friday's tilt with Dallas and Saturday's visit to the Chicago Bulls.
Watson, meanwhile, has filled in for both Williams and Johnson this season and has posted averages of 15.2 points, 3.8 assists and 1.2 steals in the previous six games played. His minutes will dip once Johnson returns.
After hosting Dallas, the Nets will play two straight and 12 of 15 games away from the 11217 zip code. The eight straight road bouts from March 18-April 3 will be the longest excursion of the season. The trip includes a six-game jaunt against the Western Conference.
The Nets and Mavericks are meeting for the first time this season and are scheduled to play again March 20 in Big D. Dallas had won five straight and 19 of the last 22 matchups with the Nets until a 93-92 setback last Feb. 28 in the Lone Star State. Lopez scored a season-high 38 points in that one.
Dallas has won eight of its last 11 as the visitor in this series.