Although the Dallas Mavericks have had one of the best home records in the NBA over the last few years, they were unable to rely on that success earlier this season.Having put their slow start behind them, the Mavericks continue their season-high seven-game homestand on Saturday night against the streaking Atlanta Hawks.
Dallas (10-8) has won three straight and eight of its last nine. The Mavericks also are averaging 104.4 points since Nov. 16, up from 95.9 through the first nine games this season.
Part of the turnaround has been because of the team's recent success at home. After losing their first four home games, the Mavericks have won four in a row at the American Airlines Center.
Dallas, which has held opponents to just 94.3 points in the last four home games, continued its strong defensive play with a 112-97 win over Phoenix on Thursday. The Mavericks led the entire way, building a 23-point advantage at one point, as Dirk Nowitzki tied a season high with 39 points.
"He willed us to a higher level than we've been at," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "It was clear to me he was not going to let us lose."
Nowitzki is averaging 25.1 points in 2008-09, and has gotten off to a hot start on this homestand. He was 17-of-25 from the field on Thursday - his best shooting game of the season - after opening this stretch with 29 points and 10 rebounds in a 100-98 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.
Atlanta (12-6) is one of two teams the Mavericks will face during the remainder of this homestand that have more wins than Dallas. The Mavericks though, have won four straight and nine of 10 at home against the Hawks.
"We have to win them all," the Mavs' J.J. Barea said of the homestand. "There is no doubt about it. We want them all. We want to win the next five games coming up and just keep moving up in the standings."
While Atlanta has struggled in Dallas, the Hawks are gaining confidence after a rough stretch. Atlanta opened the season 6-0, but dropped the next four. After then struggling with inconsistency, the Hawks have rebounded, winning three in a row, including a 98-95 win over New York on Friday.
Seven Hawks scored in double figures, with only Zaza Pachulia failing to reach 10 points. Marvin Williams had 18 points and Joe Johnson added 17 and seven assists. Atlanta, though, went 5-of-26 from 3-point range after making 21 from beyond the arc in the previous two games.
"We got into what they wanted us to do - shooting jump shots," said Josh Smith, who had 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists. "We were doing it, I guess, because we were open. They just weren't falling. If they were falling, nobody would be saying anything about it."
The win was Atlanta's fifth straight at home, but the Hawks now begin a four-game road trip. They have lost five of their last six on the road.
Atlanta and Dallas split two meetings last season, with each winning at home. The Mavericks' last four home wins over the Hawks were by an average of 16.8 points.