Give the Dallas Mavericks credit. They don’t let the terrible stench of losing hang around their locker room very long.
On eight occasions this season, the Mavs have been faced with a two-game losing streak. And in their previous seven forays, they managed to shake free of the disgusting odor and snap the streak before it got out of hand.
The Mavs (36-25) will look to pass the smell test again Wednesday at 7 p.m. against the Denver Nuggets (25-34) at the noisy Pepsi Center.
When asked after Tuesday’s practice about his team’s innate ability to halt losing streaks at no more than two games, coach Rick Carlisle said: “Well, listen, you trying to jinx us, is that what you’re trying to do? Because if you are, the door is over there.
“Look, we’ve been able to stop the bleeding in these situations and that’s where we’re at right now.”
In the process of separating themselves from prolonged losing streaks, the Mavs are hanging on the cliff of the Western Conference playoff race. To show how tight the race is with 21 games remaining, the eighth-place Mavs are just one game from being in sixth place, and only one game from being in ninth and out of the playoffs.
“The remaining 21 games are extremely difficult when you factor in the difficulties of the venues of the sub-.500 teams and the fact that we’re playing a lot of the better teams record-wise,” Carlisle said. “So they’re all very difficult.
“We’ve got to stick to our process, we’ve got to have a lot of guys ready to contribute [Wednesday]. We’ve got thin air and all that kind of stuff, so we’ll show up with guns blazing.”
And show up hoping they packed the formula for snapping two-game losing streaks.
“You got to go back to the basics,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “We worked on some stuff [Tuesday] and hopefully we can carry it over to [Wednesday].”
Mekel to D-League
Point guard Gal Mekel, a rookie from Israel, celebrated his 26th birthday Tuesday by receiving news that he had been assigned to the D-League, where he’ll play for the Frisco-based Texas Legends.
The two-game assignment is designed to help Mekel, who has missed 21 games after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to address a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee. Before his Jan. 17 surgery, Mekel averaged only 2.4 points and 2.1 assists in 9.6 minutes while playing 30 games for the Mavs.
“He’s done with his rehab, he’s had some live practices, so it’s time for him to get some game minutes to continue with his rehab,” Carlisle said. “I just want to make clear this is an opportunity for him to continue his rehab and conditioning, and he’s done very well to this point.”
Dirk on LeBron’s 61
Although they’re adversaries on the court, players can appreciate when another star puts on a show-stopping performance.
Such was the case Monday when Twitter was abuzz after Miami’s LeBron James scored a career-high 61 points against the Charlotte Bobcats. James was 22 of 33 from the field, including 8 of 10 from beyond the 3-point arc.
“Honestly, if he shoots the ball well, you can’t guard him,” Nowitzki said. “He goes right, he goes left, in transition, and you can’t guard him.”
Nowitzki owns the Mavs’ single-game scoring record. The 16-year veteran tallied 53 points during a Dec. 2, 2004 overtime win over the Houston Rockets.