Dirk Nowitzki has been on a scoring tear lately for the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. The reigning NBA Finals MVP looks to keep his hot hand going tonight in the opener of a three-game homestand versus the Los Angeles Clippers.
Nowitzki has scored 20 or more points in 10 of his last 11 games, averaging 25.7 ppg in that stretch, and was clutch in Friday's 100-98 victory over the Orlando Magic by draining a turn-around jumper over Hedo Turkoglu with 5.9 seconds left in the contest. Nowitzki finished with 28 points and Jason Terry scored 17 for Dallas, which is seeded fifth in the West and has won seven of their last 10 games.
"I'm proud of this team the way we bounced back," said Mavs guard Delonte West, who scored 15 points. "We put the whole package together."
The Mavericks were able to rebound from a loss at Miami on Thursday in a rematch of last year's NBA Finals. Despite the win in Orlando, the Mavs have still dropped nine of their last 12 road bouts.
Dallas will also host Memphis and Portland on the homestand and owns a 19-8 mark in Big D this season.
It wasn't pretty the last time the Clippers hit the road, as they dropped all three tests in a tour through Indiana, Oklahoma City and New Orleans.
Los Angeles hopes to get back on track as the visitor in the Lone Star State and won all five matchups on a recent homestand, culminating with Saturday's 105-96 victory versus the Utah Jazz in which Blake Griffin scored 24 points, grabbed eight rebounds and handed out six assists.
Chris Paul tallied 26 points and Randy Foye supplied 17 for the Clippers, who won five straight games for the first time since November 2006, and have prevailed in seven straight overall as the host.
"This was one of those games we had to find a way," said Paul. "We really needed this win because the Western Conference is so jammed up."
The Clippers are currently seeded fourth in the West -- 1 1/2 games ahead of Dallas and two games in front of Memphis. They're also 1 1/2 games behind the rival Lakers for the top spot in the Pacific Division.
LA will play five of seven games on the road and is 11-13 as the visitor. It will close out its three-game season series with the Mavericks tonight and the two teams have recorded wins as the host. The Clippers posted a 91-89 win on Jan. 18 at Staples Center, but Dallas responded with a 96-92 triumph on Feb. 13 in Big D.
The Clippers have lost 10 in a row at Dallas, last winning there back on April 19, 2006. Dallas has won 16 of 18 and 23 of the last 26 matchups as the host in this series. Nowitzki is averaging a team-high 19.5 points in two games against the Clippers this season.