Mavs battle Hornets on the bayou

The reigning NBA champion Dallas Mavericks hope to salvage a .500 road trip when they visit the Big Easy to take on the struggling New Orleans Hornets.

After a pair of heartbreaking loses in LA to both the Lakers and Clippers, Dallas rebounded with an impressive 94-91 win over Utah in Salt Lake City. Shawn Marion scored 22 points to go along with seven rebounds and Rodrigue Beaubois tallied a career-best 17 off the bench in that one.

Dirk Nowitzki added 12 points and Lamar Odom scored 11 for Dallas, which is 3-5 on the road this season. Jason Kidd dished out 11 assists and Jason Terry added 10 points in the win.

"It's as good a win as we have had all year for a lot of reasons," Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle said.

Nowitzki continues to struggle offensively this season after his brilliant performance in the 2010-11 NBA Finals. The German star has scored at least 20 ppg over the previous 11 seasons, never dipping below 21.8. This season, however, Nowitzki is scoring at just a 17.5 ppg clip.

After tonight the Mavs will return to North Texas for a four-game homestand.

The Hornets, meanwhile, are mired in last place in the Southwest Division after dropping their sixth straight contest on Thursday in Houston. New Orleans kept it close but Samuel Dalembert's put-back slam with 11 seconds left in overtime lifted the Rockets to a 90-88 victory.

Jason Smith paced the Hornets, losers of 12 of 13 overall, with 17 points. Jarrett Jack and Marco Belinelli both had 15, while Trevor Ariza added 10.

With 15 seconds left in the extra frame, the Rockets' Kevin Martin came up with the ball off a Jack turnover, dribbled the length of the floor and threw up a contested righty runner. The shot was strong, but Dalembert was there for the flush. Belinelli then missed a twisting mid-range jumper at the buzzer, sealing the dramatic win.

"We couldn't get off the shot that we wanted at the end. They were playing well against the pick and roll," Hornets head coach Monty Williams said.

The Mavs have won two straight over NOLA, including a 96-81 rout in Big D earlier this season. The Hornets franchise, however, has won eight straight in the series at home after finally halting a 10-game Dallas run as the visitor back on Dec. 1, 2007.