Mavericks come home playing their best ball

Posted Thursday, Jan. 02, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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Now that they’ve ventured outside of the friendly confines of American Airlines Center and taken care of some heavy lifting, the Dallas Mavericks would like to accomplish the same things on their home court.

But the Mavericks know their home floor — in a strange twist — hasn’t been as kind to them lately as life has been out on the road.

The Mavericks (19-13) entertain the Los Angeles Clippers (22-12) at 7:30 p.m. Friday after finishing a three-game sweep on the road with Wednesday’s grind-it-out 87-78 victory over the Washington Wizards. Still, the red-hot Mavs know the last two games they played at the AAC resulted in losses to Toronto (109-108 in overtime) and San Antonio (116-107).

“Yeah, that was a big [road] trip, especially after the week before,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “Losing at home to San Antonio in a bad one, losing to the Raptors in a bad one. “[Losing 123-108 at] Phoenix, we never really had a shot. So it was an ugly week there right around Christmas and before.”

The Mavericks can move seven games over .500 for the first time since April 21, 2012, with a victory.

“We like the spot we’re in, but you can never relax, especially not in the West,” Nowitzki said. “We know how many teams that are sitting right behind us that are going to make a run here to the All-Star break and after. So we’ve got to keep the pedal to the metal to the All-Star break, and it’s going to be another fun month or month and a half until then.”

The Mavs will also play New York Knicks on Sunday and the Los Angeles Lakers, minus Kobe Bryant, on Tuesday.

“The first game off the road trip is always the hardest one,” forward Shawn Marion said. “It’s a good team coming in, very athletic on the front line. CP [Clippers point guard Chris Paul] is a handful on his own. We’ve got to get our mind set for that.”

And while the Mavericks are getting their mind set for Paul and company, they know they’re coming home following a bang-up job on the road.

“It’s just a great situation for us to be in,” forward Vince Carter said. “We feel like if we stay the course and we lock ourselves into what needs to be done, we can compete with anybody.

“We’re not going to win every game of course, but the way we want to play I think is what’s making us feel good right now, because everybody is really having each other’s back, and we’re just doing what we’re supposed to do on both ends now. It’s something we didn’t do earlier.”

Ellis at his best

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said Wednesday’s game against the Washington Wizards was the best game guard Monta Ellis has played this season.

Ellis scored a game-high 23 points and handed out only one assist. However, he kept attacking the basket and kept the Wizards off-guard all night.

But was it Ellis’ best game with the Mavs? What about his contributing 37 points and nine assists when the Mavericks rallied from 18 down to edge the Houston Rockets 123-120 on Nov. 20?

“As far as me getting into the lane and making great decisions, I would say it’s up there,” Ellis said. “But the biggest thing is that we came out with a win.”

Carter believes a lot of Ellis’ games this season have been priceless.

“He’s been playing some good ones,” Carter said. “I hope every game he plays is the best one of the year, because I think his last game [Monday in Minnesota] was his best, and he keeps getting better. He’s comfortable and we’re putting him in positions to succeed and make plays for our team, whether it’s making the pass or getting to the free-throw line or scoring the basket.”

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice

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