The Dallas Mavericks (38-39) are clinging to playoff hope as they host the Phoenix Suns (23-55). Dallas comes off a split of their four-game road trip in hopes of getting back to .500 for the first time since they were 11-11 after a loss to the Boston Celtics on Dec. 12. They look to get back to .500 against the worst team in the Western Conference. In a very odd finish to a very good game, the Suns lost on a goaltending call at the buzzer, 101-98, to the Rockets in Houston. Phoenix dropped its 10th consecutive game on a buzzer-beating three-point attempt by James Harden that was taken off the rim by a Suns player and ruled interference, making the basket good and giving Houston the three-point win. Phoenix has lost their last 10 by an average of 11.4 points.
Dallas is still mathematically alive to make the playoffs, but the odds are looking slim. The anti magic number for the Mavericks is two. That means between themselves, the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas needs to avoid any combination of their own losses and wins by Utah and wins by Los Angeles equaling out to the number two. Ultimately, Dallas needs to win out and hope that those two teams win no more than one game on their respective remaining schedules. It’s going to take a lot, starting with the game against the Phoenix Suns.
In an injury update, the team believes that Dirk Nowitzki (left foot) will play vs Phoenix. They are also optimistic that Elton Brand (right calf) will be in uniform. Brand has missed the last three games with his injury.
Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Suns.
The Mavericks have taken 11-of-12 and 14 of the last 16 regular-season meetings with the Suns. The Mavericks have won 10 straight and 22 of the last 27 matchups with the Suns in Dallas. The Suns have not defeated the Mavericks at American Airlines Center since Mar. 14, 2007, when they recorded a 129-127 double-overtime win.
The Mavericks lead the 2012-13 season series, 3-0, and will look to sweep the Suns (4-0) with a victory at Dallas.
Shawn Marion appeared in his 1,000th career regular-season game against Phoenix on Jan. 27, 2013, becoming the 107th player in NBA history to reach the milestone.
With a jumper at the 5:38 mark of the third quarter against Phoenix on Jan. 27, 2013, Dirk Nowitzki passed Allen Iverson (24,368) for 18th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Nowitzki appeared in his 1,000th career regular-season game vs. Phoenix on 1/4/12, becoming the 98th player in league history to achieve the milestone. Nowitzki missed the game at Phoenix on Dec. 6, 2012 recovering from right knee surgery, and the game at Phoenix on Feb. 1 due to a right adductor strain. In his only game against the Suns this season (at Dallas on Jan. 27, 2013), Nowitzki recorded 18 points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes
It’s a Small World:
Shawn Marion was selected by Phoenix in the first round (ninth overall pick) of the 1999 NBA Draft and played his first eight-and-a-half seasons with the Suns from 1999-2008, garnering Western Conference All-Star honors four times (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007). Vince Carter played in 51 games (41 starts) for the Suns during the 2010-11 season, averaging 13.5 points. He was waived by Phoenix and signed by Dallas three days later. Carter and Suns interim head coach Lindsey Hunter were teammates on the Toronto Raptors in 2002-03. Suns forward Wesley Johnson is from Corsicana, Texas, and played for the Dallas Mustangs AAU team. Rick Carlisle coached Suns center Jermaine O’Neal for three seasons in Indiana from 2003-06. Mavericks athletic trainer Casey Smith was formerly the strength and conditioning coach for the Suns.
1. Look to continue the 20/20 Experience. Chris Kaman (26) and Shawn Marion (20) both scored 20-plus points in the Mavericks’ win at Portland. It marked the second straight game Dallas had two players score 20-plus points apiece (Marion had 25 at Sacramento, while Brandan Wright scored 20). The Mavericks improved to 14-4 this season when they have two players score at least 20 points in a game.
2. Get O.J. Mayo back on track. Mayo has posted just 7.8 per game on 31.7 percent shooting over the last six games. He is averaging 17.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 37.3 minutes in three starts against the Suns this season. He has scored at least 20 in two of three matchups against Phoenix this season.
3. See the 3, be the 3. Phoenix comes in as the worst team in defending the 3-point line. They rank last in the league as they allow their opponents to shoot 39.0 percent from beyond the arc. Dallas ranks seventh in the league in terms of 3-point accuracy at 36.9 percent from 3-point range. This isn’t saying that Dallas needs to live at the 3-point line, but they need to be patient. Simply put, Phoenix isn’t a good team. They’re on the second night of a back-to-back and they’ll have tired legs. Just work Phoenix over and be ready to shoot.
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.