DALLAS – The Mavericks’ soft stretch of the schedule is over. Here come Carmelo Anthony’s mighty New York Knicks.
Anthony lit up the Mavs for 31 points in the Knicks’ Nov. 9 win over the Mavs at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks present plenty of concerns, but they start with containing Anthony, the NBA’s fourth-leading scorer at 24.2 points per game.
“Right now, he might be the best player in the game if you look at their record, the stats that he’s putting up and all that kind of stuff,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s going to be an MVP candidate for sure.”
The Mavs didn’t have defensive stopper Shawn Marion for the previous meeting with the Knicks. Rookie Jae Crowder got the start and a rough lesson that night. The Mavs hope Marion’s experience and ability can make a difference.
“We’ve got to guard him better as a team,” Carlisle said. “Our position wasn’t good last game. Our individual position wasn’t what it needed to be. Consequently, our help couldn’t get there.”
Records: Mavs (6-6); Knicks (8-1)
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: American Airlines Center
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: Will the Mavs get their butts kicked on the boards again? Carlisle has been ranting about rebounding since the preseason. He was especially strong about it after the Warriors had a 62-43 rebounding edge in Golden State’s win over the Mavs on Monday night. The Mavs actually outrebounded the Knicks, 50-43, earlier this month. They’ll probably have to do that again to have a legitimate chance to beat the team with the NBA’s best record.
Key matchup: O.J. Mayo vs. Jason Kidd: The crafty Kidd is likely to at least start the night defending the NBA’s seventh-leading scorer. Mayo got off to a hot start at Madison Square Garden, but he cooled off considerably after getting in early foul trouble, finishing with 23 points on 7-of-16 shooting and committing a season-high eight turnovers. The crafty Kidd caused some of Mayo’s issues that game, including drawing a charge that was Mayo’s third foul early in the second quarter.
Up next: vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 7:30 p.m. Saturday