The Mavericks took advantage of a soft spot in their schedule that included two games against a banged up New Orleans Pelicans team on their way to winning three of four games in week 11. Dallas started the week breaking their four-game home losing streak against the listless Lakers 110-97 on Jan. 4. The win was costly for Dallas as Shawn Marion suffered a severely bruised shoulder in a nasty fall in the second quarter. Marion did not play the remainder of the week and he is questionable to hit the court in week 12.
The Mavericks toughest test of the week came the following night in San Antonio and once again the Mavericks were no match for the Spurs. The Mavericks lost 112-90, their worst defeat of the 2013-14 season. The Spurs had an answer for every Mavericks run and this game was over by the end of the third quarter. The Mavericks struggles in the paint continued as they were out-rebounded 55-32.
After a day off the Mavericks had an away and home set of back-to-back games against the New Orleans Pelicans. Dallas could not have picked a better time to face New Orleans. The Pelicans starting point guard, Jrue Holiday, is out with a stress fracture in right tibia that will cost him roughly a month. In addition to already missing Jrue Holiday and forward Ryan Anderson, guard Tyreke Evans sprained his ankle in Friday night’s 107-90 loss to the Mavericks and he did not suit up on Saturday.
The Pelicans played admirably well on Saturday, Jan. 11, but Dallas prevailed 110-107 on the back of Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 40 points in a game for the first time since April 16, 2012.
Winning three of four in week 11 was important for the Mavericks because their schedule picks up in week 12. Dallas has a firm grasp on the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and they are gaining ground on the Phoenix Suns, who could slip with guard Eric Bledsoe now out of the lineup.
Monday, Jan. 13 vs. Orlando Magic
The 10-27 Orlando Magic roll in the American Airlines Center to kick off week 12. The Magic are a team that is rebuilding and their recent play reflects their struggles. Orlando has lost six consecutive games and they have lost by at least 16 points in each of their last four.
The Mavericks will likely be without Shawn Marion once again and Dallas will have to come out with more energy than they did on Jan. 11 against the Pelicans. With three difficult games on their schedule the remainder of the week, it is imperative the Mavericks take care of business against the Magic.
Wednesday, Jan. 15 at Los Angeles Clippers
The Mavericks second game of the week takes them west as they will once again face the Los Angeles Clippers. Despite trailing by seven points in the fourth quarter, the Clippers defeated the Mavericks in Dallas on Jan. 3 by a score of 119-112. The Clippers defense stifled the Mavericks attack late as Los Angeles went on a 16-2 run to the end the game.
Chris Paul injured his shoulder in the Jan. 3 matchup against the Mavericks but the Clippers have played well in his absence. The Clippers have won three of four games without their star point guard. The Clippers will again be relying on ex-Maverick Darren Collison to man the point guard position. Collison was a disappointment in his lone season in Dallas but he has fit in well in Los Angeles as a backup.
Friday, Jan. 17 at Phoenix Suns
The Mavericks third matchup of the week pits them against the team that is directly above them in the Western Conference. The 21-15 Phoenix Suns have exceeded expectations around the league and Jeff Hornacek is the early favorite for Coach of the Year.
The Suns recently lost guard Eric Bledsoe to a lateral meniscus tear on his right knee. Bledsoe’s injury required surgery and he is expected to be out four to six weeks. Bledsoe’s importance was quickly made evident as the Suns dropped consecutive games to the Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies.
The Suns hit 15 3-pointers on Dec. 21 in a 123-108 victory against the Mavericks on their home court. Even without Bledsoe, this will a tough win for Dallas to come away with.
Saturday, Jan. 18 vs. Portland Trail Blazers
The Mavericks return to Dallas the following night for a home contest against one of the best teams in the NBA, the 28-9 Portland Trail Blazers. The Mavericks most impressive win of the season came at the Moda Center against the Trail Blazers on Dec. 7 and this is something they will surely remember as they hit the court in Dallas.
The Trail Blazers enter week 12 with a 28-9 record and they are currently the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. The Blazers maintain a high level of play away from their home court and Dallas will need to muster up a great deal of energy to hang with Portland on the second night of a back-to-back.
Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is becoming a player who is the worth the price of admission. Lillard is the defending Rookie of the Year and he has taken another huge step in year two. Lilliard is currently averaging 21.4 points and 5.7 assists per game. On Jan. 8th at Sacramento, Lillard put up 26 points in the fourth quarter alone. How well Dallas can defend the dynamic young star will go a long way in determining the outcome against the Trail Blazers.