Dallas Mavericks (31-22) AT Indiana Pacers (40-11) 6 p.m. CT on FSSW
After suffering a minor ankle injury against the Charlotte Bobcats, Dirk Nowitzki and company look to get back on track when it faces the East-leading Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Feb. 12. It will be the Mavericks final game before this weekend’s All-Star break.
The game can be seen on Fox Sports Southwest with Mark Followill, Derek Harper and Skin at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT.
The Mavericks suffered just their second-ever loss to the Bobcats 114-89 on Feb. 11, allowing a season-high 42 assists. Nowitzki and Monta Ellis led the way with 16 points each as Dallas was outscored in every quarter, including by 12 and 10 in the second and third quarter, respectively. Al Jefferson scored a game-high 30 points, his fifth 30-point game in his last seven, and the Bobcats shot 55 percent from the field and 12-of-24 from downtown. Charlotte is now 2-17 all time versus Dallas, with both wins coming at home.
The 25-point loss was a season worst and snapped Dallas’ season-long five-game winning streak.
As for the Pacers, they improved to 25-2 at home with a 119-80 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Feb. 10. David West scored a game-high 25 points while five other Pacers scored in double figures. Roy Hibbert recorded 14 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. Indiana, first in the league in points allowed, held the Nuggets to just 31 percent shooting.
Leaders: In his 16th season, Nowitzki continues to be the scoring leader for the Mavericks. The 35-year-old is scoring 21.8 points per game while on the cusp of the 50-40-90 club once again. Nowitzki scored 21 points on 10-of-20 shooting in his only game against Indiana last year. Nowitzki scored 30 and 29 in the two prior meetings. George ranks 10th with 22.4 points per game and has scored in double figures in all but one game this year. Paul George is averaging 17.8 points in five career games versus the Mavs.
By The Numbers: Coming off the fifth-best team in terms of points allowed, in the Bobcats, the Mavericks now have the pleasure of facing the top-ranked team in that category. Dallas, 13-14, looks to move to .500 on the road against the best home team in the league. The Pacers are 14-8 against teams .500 and above while the Mavs are just 12-14. The Pacers are 15-5 against the West. The Mavericks are 14-8 against the East. Indiana will look to move to 6-0 against Southwest teams while Dallas will look to move to 7-0 against Central teams. Dallas has lost three straight against Indiana, last winning 116-108 at home on March 4, 2011. The Mavs last win in Indiana came during the 2009-10 season. This will mark the third time this season that the Mavs face a road-road back-to-back. Dallas is 2-0 in the back end of those games.
X-Factors: Defense will be key for the Mavericks to win or at least keep it respectable. The Pacers may be in the best defensive team in the league, but they only average 99 points a game. The Mavs can score, but in most of their losses, the Mavericks have scored a lot only to be outscored still. They rank 23rd in points allowed, but in the top-10 in points scored. Dallas will need to find a way to sustain George as well as stopping 7-foot-2 Hibbert. Playing the zone is a nice way to go, but coach Rick Carlisle has shown that he doesn’t like to play zone for a long period of time.
Injury Report: Nowitzki suffered a sprained left ankle in the first half against the Bobcats, and went to the locker room early after only 10 minutes of playing time. Nowitzki did return for halftime warm ups and seemed to be fine. After the game, Nowitzki said, “he iced his ankle and will play tomorrow.” Mavs rookie Gal Mekel continues to miss time while Ellis’ hamstring injury seems to be behind him. After sustaining the injury on Feb. 7, Ellis played 28 minutes on Feb. 9 against the Boston Celtics, then led the Mavericks with 16 points, seven assists, and four rebounds in 32 minutes versus the Bobcats. For the Pacers, Lance Stephenson suffered a back injury last week, but only missed one game, returning on Feb. 9 and played 39 minutes.
Last Meeting: Led by George’s 24 points, the Pacers outscored the Mavs 62-37 in the second half on their way to a 103-78 victory in Dallas on March 28, 2013. Indiana outrebounded the Mavs 55-38 as five Pacers grabbed seven or more boards, and held Dallas to 39 percent shooting. Tied at 41 a piece at halftime, the Pacers used a 20-5 spurt to open up the third, eight points scored by George, and never looked back. Nowitzki led the Mavs with 21 points while Vince Carter added 14 off the bench.