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Wednesday, February 29, 2012
W2W4: Looking to avoid worst stretch since 1-4 start

By Jeff Caplan


During his postgame press conference Tuesday, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle seemed particularly perturbed at his team's lackluster performance in the 93-92 home loss to the New Jersey.

Starting a stretch of nine games in 12 nights, but seven against teams with losing records, dropping one to Jersey wasn't on anyone's mind.

"This is going to be an emotional stretch of games," Carlisle said. "There's going to be a lot going on, a lot of good teams, a lot of hungry teams that don't necessarily have good records. Similar to [Tuesday], if we don't put our best game forward, we put ourselves in harm's way."

Tonight is not one of those nights against a team that does not have a good record. The Memphis Grizzlies are just 19-15, but they've put some things together lately as they eagerly await the return of power forward Zach Randolph -- who had thoughts of coming back against Dallas, but apparently will hold off just a bit longer.

The Mavs, who have averaged just 90.2 points in their last five games, enter this one just 1 1/2 games ahead of the Grizzlies, and a loss would tie the two clubs in the loss column. Dallas enters the game having lost two in a row and looking to avoid a fourth loss in five games, which would tie their worst stretch since starting the season 1-4.

It won't be easy. Once a Dallas doormat, Memphis has won four of the last six meetings on their home floor and six of 10 overall.

Records: Mavs (21-14); Grizzlies (19-15)

When: 7 p.m.

Where: FedEx Forum

TV: FSSW

Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM; 1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: The Mavs are coming off a stinging loss at home Tuesday night while the Grizzlies rested up with an extra night off following the All-Star break. Dallas wasn't ready to play at home against the Nets, falling behind early and allowing 56 first-half points. How fresh will they be tonight after Tuesday's intense finish? A fast start by the Grizzlies could be fatal to the Dallas. Memphis allows just 92.2 points a game.

Key matchup: Marc Gasol vs. Brendan Haywood
The Mavs' big man has another tall task tonight against the Grizzlies' All-Star center, who is averaging 15.0 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.1 blocks. While Haywood had a night to remember offensively with a season-high 18 points Tuesday night against Nets counterpart Brook Lopez, he had a night to forget at the other end. Lopez torched Haywood for a season-high 38 points on 17-of-28 shooting. Gasol has scored in double figures in 10 consecutive games and recorded a double-double in three of his last four games.

Injuries: Mavs - G Delonte West (fractured right ring finger) is out; F Lamar Odom (personal reasons) is out. Grizzlies - F Zach Randolph (torn right MCL) is out; F Darrell Arthur (torn right Achilles) is out.

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