DALLAS MAVERICKS (8-7) at UTAH JAZZ (9-4)



2012-01-19

Tip-off: Thursday, 10:35 p.m. ET

Line: Utah -2.5, Total: 184.5



After losing to both L.A. teams on last-second three-pointers, Dallas is eager to get back in the win column visiting a red-hot Utah team on Thursday.



The Jazz started the season 1-3 (SU and ATS), but since turning the calendar to 2012, they have the NBA's best record at 8-1 SU (7-2 ATS). But before dropping two nailbiters in L.A. by a combined five points, the Mavericks were also on fire, winning five straight and seven of eight (both SU and ATS). Dallas' defense has been extremely stingy in the past seven games, limiting opponents to 78.9 PPG on 38.5% FG (28.6% threes). Although the Mavericks just played Wednesday night, they have shown a remarkable ability to win on zero days rest, going 17-9 ATS (18-8 SU) since the start of last season. And although the Jazz have historically been a tremendous home team, the Mavs won by 12 points and 17 points at EnergySolutions Arena last season. The pick here is underdog DALLAS to end its slide with a big road win.



The Mavericks have been tremendous defensively, but their offense continues to sputter.
Dirk Nowitzki (17.9 PPG, 46% FG, 25% threes) is averaging just 14.1 PPG (43% FG) in his past eight games, reaching 20 points just once in this span. He's coming off a horrible 6-of-18 shooting night against the Clippers, but a date with Utah could be just what he needs to bust out of his slump. In last year's four-game series sweep of the Jazz, Nowitzki averaged 24.8 PPG on 63% FG and grabbed 8.5 RPG.



SG Delonte West scored a season-high 17 points in the loss to the Clippers and made 3-of-5 from downtown. This was a great sign considering he entered the game 3-of-18 from three-point range. PG Jason Kidd hasn't shot the ball well either since his return from injury (5-of-17 FG, 1-of-13 threes), but he did dish out 10 assists against the Clippers, eight more than he had against the Lakers on Monday. Since returning to Dallas in 2007-08, Kidd has 115 assists and 34 turnovers (3.4 ratio) in 13 games versus Utah.



Unlike the Mavs who gear much of their offense around Dirk Nowitzki, the Jazz are happy to share the wealth. Seven players are averaging more than eight points per game led by Al Jefferson (18.0 PPG, 9.3 RPG) and Paul Millsap (15.9 PPG, 8.4 RPG), the team's top two scorers and rebounders. This duo has been largely responsible for the team's 50.0 PPG in the paint this month, the second-highest total in the NBA. However, Dallas has allowed just 32.4 PPG in the paint in January, which is the lowest total in the league.



Utah also has two potent scorers off the bench in Josh Howard (10.7 PPG) and C.J. Miles (8.2 PPG). Howard could miss his third straight game on Thursday due to a quadriceps injury, but Miles has 36 points and 11 rebounds spanning just 47 minutes in his past two home games. PG Devin Harris will be going up against his former team in this matchup. Harris has shot the ball terribly this season, posting a career-worst 34.1% FG. But he's starting to find his rhythm, scoring 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting in the past two games.

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