NBA

Mavericks go for fourth straight when they host Nets

Now that the Dirk Nowitzki milestone is out of the way, the Dallas Mavericks can go back to focusing on their playoff push.

Luckily, the Nowitzki march to 30,000 career points didn't interfere in the Mavs' winning ways. Dallas has won three in a row going into Friday night's visit from the league-worst Brooklyn Nets to American Airlines Center.

The Mavericks (27-36) have also won five of their last six and are 16-9 since mid-January to make a run on the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. Dallas trailed No. 8 Denver (29-35) by 1.5 games going into Friday.

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The Mavs are coming off a two-day break having beaten the Los Angeles Lakers 122-111 on Tuesday. Nowitzki led the way with 25 points, and became the sixth player in NBA history to reach the 30K-point plateau.

Dallas gets another boost in its pursuit to go 4-0 on the current five-game homestand with the return of J.J. Barea. The veteran guard has missed much of the season with a nagging calf injury.

"I'm excited to be back," Barea said. "The team is playing great right now. We've got a good thing going here in practice and in the locker room, so I'm just happy to be back.

"There's some exciting basketball in this town, and I just want to help the team out. Just come in with a lot of energy and try to give them a little extra."

Barea, averaging 12.2 points and 4.9 assists, is expected to play throughout the game, but his time on the court will be monitored.

"We're going to have a minute limit to start with, and we'll work from there," coach Rick Carlisle said. "I think the plan is to play him both halves, and then shut him down and get him ready for the next night (Saturday against Phoenix) if all goes well."

Brooklyn (11-52) concludes its annual "Circus Trip" in Dallas. The Nets are 2-5 so far on the eight-game trek and are coming off a 110-105 loss at Atlanta.

Jeremy Lin pulled the Nets within 106-105 with 13 seconds left, but the Hawks were able to close it out at the line. Brooklyn was trying to win consecutive games for the first time since last March.

"We are definitely getting better," said Brook Lopez, who scored 18 in the loss but also sprained his ankle. "We have to take what we did well from this game and keep improving, learn from what we did wrong."

Sean Kilpatrick scored 27 in 30 minutes off the bench and is averaging 23.3 points over his last three games. Lin added 16 points.

Brooklyn has success against the Mavs, especially in Dallas when the Nets have won four of their last five trips. The teams have yet to meet this season.

Lopez and guard Joe Harris (concussion/sprained left shoulder) are both expected to miss the game at Dallas.

The Mavs signed guard Manny Harris and forward Jarrod Uthoff to 10-day contracts out of the D-League on Thursday.