Dallas Mavericks AT Charlotte Bobcats 6 p.m. CT on FSSW
The streaking Mavericks will face off with Michael Jordan’s Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena on Feb. 11 and can be seen on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:00 p.m. ET with Mark Followill and Derek Harper.
Dallas has won five straight for the first time since Feb. 2012, and six of its last seven. The Mavs are a half game ahead of the Golden State Warriors for the 7th seed in the West, and down a game in the loss column to the Phoenix Suns for 6th.
Charlotte is tied with the Detroit Pistons at 22-29 for the 8th spot in the East. Under first-year head coach, Steve Clifford, the Bobcats have lost two of their last three including a 104-100 defeat to the San Antonio Spurs on Feb. 8. Patty Mills led the way with a game-high 32 points.
Hot Streak: The Mavs are coming off an impressive 102-91 win in Boston on Feb. 9. Dallas got off to a slow start, leading just 44-38 at halftime, but scored 58 in the second half and went up as much as 24 in the final quarter. Dirk Nowitzki led six Mavs in double figures with 20, his seventh-straight with 20 or more. Nowitzki, who is going to his 12th All-Star game this weekend, has averaged 27 points while shooting 58.6 percent from the field during that stretch.
Who To Stop: The young Bobcats are led by newcomer Al Jefferson, who continues to put up numbers no matter where he plays. The 10th-year center is averaging team highs with 20 points and 10.6 rebounds a game. Jefferson is only the fifth player in the league that’s averaging 20 and 10 (Love, Aldridge, Cousins, Davis). Jefferson has scored 20 or more in 13 of his past 14 games, which includes six 30-point games, and is averaging 27.5 points in that span.
X-Factors: If Samuel Dalembert can continue his string of effective basketball, the Mavs will have a great shot at winning their sixth straight. Jefferson and Kemba Walker will get theirs, and Gerald Henderson is a good two-guard, but if starting small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist plays like a second-overall pick that he is, the Bobcats can end Dallas’ streak. Dalembert has played good in four February games, nearly averaging 13 points and nine boards while shooting 69 percent from the field. Dalembert only averaged four points in almost 16 minutes of action in Dallas’ last eight games in January. MKG’s numbers are slightly down from last year’s rookie campaign, but the former Kentucky Wildcat can contribute in different places. MKG left early with a fractured hand in the teams’ first meeting, but did record nine and eight against the Mavs in the preseason.
Injury Report: Monta Ellis continues to deal with a hamstring injury that he suffered against the Utah Jazz, but played 28 minutes in the win over Boston. Ellis participated in Monday’s practice, but reported to have a “little tightness” afterward. Ellis is listed as probable, but if he can’t go, Devin Harris will likely start. Rookie Gal Mekel missed his 13th-straight game with a knee injury, but head coach Rick Carlisle is hopeful his young guard will return to practice after the All-Star break. For the Bobcats, Ben Gordon continues to miss time as he’s only played one game since the calendar turned to 2014. Former Maverick center, Brendan Haywood is dealing with a long-term foot injury, but hopes to make his season debut in a few weeks.
Last Meeting: Nowitzki scored 14 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and along with Ellis, combined to score the final 19 for Dallas as the Mavs rallied in the fourth to defeat the Bobcats 89-82 on Dec. 3, 2013. Ellis finished with 22 points, as Dallas kept Charlotte winless (0-10) in Dallas and just 1-17 overall against the Mavs despite leading by 12 in the final quarter. Jefferson lead the Bobcats with 19 and a game-high 12 rebounds, while Walker and Henderson added 16 a piece. The win moved the Mavs to 11-8 and 9-2 at home.
Prediction: With Dalembert’s recent stretch, the Mavs will get their sixth-straight win as Nowitzki will score his eighth-straight 20-point game against a Bobcat team that allows 97 points a game, fifth in the league. Final score: Dallas 96-90.