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Thursday, January 19, 2012
W2W4: Jazz are playing a nifty tune

By Jeff Caplan



Entering their 16th game of the season, the Dallas Mavericks are looking to avoid their second three-game skid of the season while trying to secure only their second win against a winning team.

The Utah Jazz, which includes former Mavs Devin Harris and Josh Howard (who is expected to sit tonight with a strained left quad), have made a remarkable recovery after a sluggish start, winning eight of 10, three in a row and seven of eight at home.

Records: Mavs (8-7); Jazz (9-4)

When: 9:30 p.m.

Where: EnergySolutions Arena

TV: TNT

Radio: 103.3 FM ESPN; 1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: The Mavs have twice been the victim of final-possession game-winning shots and now must summon the energy and discipline to defeat the league's hottest team. If the Mavs continue to shoot in the low-40 percent range it is going to be very difficult to dig out a win. Dallas ranks 22nd in the league in shooting at 43.0 percent.

Key matchup: Paul Millsap vs. Dirk Nowitzki
The Mavs put Brendan Haywood on Blake Griffin Wednesday night against the Clippers and let Nowitzki handle center DeAndre Jordan,who doesn't present much of an offensive game beyond catching the occasional lob pass. Nowitzki likely won't have that luxury tonight against the Jazz because center Al Jefferson (18.0 ppg, 8.9 rpg) is a highly skilled offensive big man. So that likely pits Nowitzki against the 6-foot-8, 253-pound Millsap, who is on an absolute tear. He is averaging 15.9 points and 8.4 rebounds on the season, but in his last four games he has averaged 23.3 points and 9.8 rebounds.

Injuries: Mavs - G-F Vince Carter (sprained left foot) is out. Jazz - F Josh Howard (strained left quad) is doubtful; F-C Derrick Favors (sprained left ankle) is questionable; G Jamaal Tinsley (dermatitis) is questionable.

Up next: Mavs at New Orleans Hornets, 7 p.m., Saturday