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Saturday, March 3, 2012
W2W4: Jazz visit playing with confidence

By Jeff Caplan



He's back.

Lamar Odom ends his extended leave Saturday as he re-joins the reeling Dallas Mavericks at their most difficult juncture of the season. The Mavs have lost a season-high four in a row and are in the midst of their worst stretch having lost five of six. Tonight's game against the Utah Jazz is their fourth in five nights with five in six nights starting up Monday at Oklahoma City.

"We have to fight our way of this," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said.

They'll have to do it against a Jazz team that is again playing with confidence. Utah ended a 3-11 stretch with two big wins over Houston and then the streaking Miami Heat on Friday night. The Heat rallied from a large double-digit deficit in the second half, but former Mavs guard Devin Harris scored the game-winning and-1 in the waning seconds.

Records: Jazz (17-18); Mavs (21-16)

When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: American Airlines Center

TV: FSSW

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

What to watch: Lamar Odom. Carlisle threw down the gauntlet Friday, saying that Odom must prove he's with this team through his attitude and actions. He hasn't played a game since Feb. 20. How will he respond?

Key matchup: Dirk Nowitzki vs. Paul Millsap
Nowitzki is having a tough time coming out of the All-Star break. He played less than 10 minutes Wednesday before lower back tightness took him out of the game with one point. He returned Friday at New Orleans but managed just 7-of-19 from the floor -- and that was bolstered by two late 3s -- and he did not attempt a free throw. Millsap, who some felt was deserving of an All-Star selection over Nowitzki, is coming off two sub-par games and will be looking to get his game going.

Injuries: Mavs - G Delonte West (fractured right ring finger) is out. Jazz - G Raja Bell (strained left adductor) is questionable.

Up next: Mavs at Oklahoma City Thunder, 7 p.m., Monday