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Week ahead: Struggling Mavs face fearsome frontcourts

1/7/2013

The Mavs have lost eight out of the last nine games, and the schedule doesn’t exactly get any easier this week.

A quick look at the Mavs’ four foes this week:

Utah Jazz (8 p.m. Monday, Energy Solutions Arena): The Jazz’s big, deep frontcourt presents some frightening matchup problems for the Mavs, who rank last in the NBA in rebounding differential. Utah (17-18) outrebounded the Mavs by a 61-40 margin in the Jazz’s 113-94 rout of Dallas on Halloween. Center Al Jefferson (12 points, 14 rebounds) and power forward Paul Millsap (13 points, 15 rebounds) had double-doubles in that game. As usual, the Jazz are especially tough to beat at home, where they’re 10-4 this season.

Los Angeles Clippers (9:30 Wednesday, Staples Center): Speaking of frightening frontcourt matchups, athletic freaks Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan present a lot of problems for the Mavs. Of course, MVP candidate Chris Paul is the primary reason the 27-8 Clippers lead the NBA in wins. His 14-point, 13-assists, five-steal outing in the Clippers’ Dec. 5 blowout of the Mavs was pretty much a ho-hum outing by CP3’s sky-high standards.

Sacramento Kings (9 p.m. Thursday, Sleep Train Arena): This ought to be entertaining, if only because of Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins. The last time the Mavs and Kings met, the big man known as “Boogie” took a below-the-belt cheap shot at O.J. Mayo – which earned him a one-game suspension – and exchanged heated words with Rick Carlisle during a Dallas win. Mayo went off on Cousins after the game, saying he was immature and had “mental issues.” But Cousins is a player the Mavs’ front office would love to take off the Kings’ hands if Sacramento’s decision makers decide he’s more trouble than he’s worth.

Memphis Grizzlies (8 p.m. Saturday, American Airlines Center): Have we mentioned tough frontcourt matchups yet? Memphis’ trio of Zach Randolph (16.8 ppg, 12.2 rpg), Marc Gasol (13.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.9 bpg) and Rudy Gay (18.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg) might be the best frontcourt in the league. The 21-10 Grizzlies, who allow the fewest points per game (89.4) in the NBA, slugged out a 92-82 win over the Mavs on Dec. 21, when O.J. Mayo made only three field goals and committed five turnovers in his first game against his former team.