Mavericks have room to improve

March, 18, 2011
3/18/11
7:22
PM CT
The Mavericks are currently the third seed in the Western Conference and have one of the better home records (24-10) in the league but they've lost two of their last three games, ending a two-game losing streak with a 112-106 win at Golden State.

The Mavericks have nine games remaining against teams with .500 records or above, starting tonight with their final meeting of the season against the Spurs.

But the Mavericks have a six-game road trip that takes them to Utah, the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland, all playoff quality teams. Plus, Phoenix is fighting for one of the final playoff berths and is also on the schedule.

"I think we got room to improve," Mavs owner Mark Cuban said. "I've been saying that and we got time to do it. It's not like we’re digging out of a big hole or anything, we just got to keep doing it and stay healthy and play our best basketball."

The Mavericks are getting healthy with the return of center Brendan Haywood, who missed the last two games with a stiff back. Cuban doesn't think the back will bother Haywood in the late stages of the season, and coach Rick Carlisle said there will be no limitations against the Spurs.

Still, the Mavericks need to play better on defense.

In the Mavericks' last game -- Wednesday at Golden State -- the Warriors jumped out to a 10-0 lead to start things and had a lead as big as 18 before the Mavericks rallied to win with a 59-point second half.

"We're working on it," Carlisle said of the defense. "I like where we are in terms of awareness of things. The beginning of the Golden State game was a concern but they came out and hit some ridiculous shots and sometimes there's no defense for some of that stuff. So you've got to be careful about overreacting because teams are highly skilled. Other nights we go out and the other team goes out 10 and you didn't do a good job defending anything."
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Dalembert 6.8
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.2