<
>

Week ahead: Holidays don't look happy for Mavs

It isn’t going to be a Merry Christmas for the Mavericks.

They’ve lost six of the last seven games and were just blown out by the San Antonio Spurs, prompting a perturbed coach Rick Carlisle to schedule practice for Christmas Eve despite the Mavs not playing again until Thursday.

“We showed a lack of competitiveness, selfishness and a lack of commitment to each other,” Carlisle told reporters after the 12-16 Mavs were routed by the Spurs. “The whole game was disappointing. It is something we can't accept, and I have to work harder at turning these guys into a team. At this point we don't look like we are very close, but we are going to keep at it.”

The schedule doesn’t get any easier this week. A look at the Mavs’ foes for the rest of December:

Oklahoma City Thunder (7 p.m. Thursday, Chesapeake Energy Arena): You like the Mavs’ odds of snapping their three-game losing streak on the road against the defending Western Conference champions? The Thunder (21-5) haven’t skipped a beat despite trading Sixth Man of the Year James Harden. Kevin Durant is an MVP candidate again, averaging 27.9 points and putting up career bests in rebounds (8.4), assists (4.2), blocks (1.3), steals (1.5) and all the shooting categories, hitting 52.1 percent from the floor, 42.7 percent from 3-point range and 90.4 percent from the line. Explosive point guard Russell Westbrook, a matchup nightmare for the Mavs who is averaging 21.4 points and 8.8 assists, might be the NBA’s best second fiddle.

Denver Nuggets (7:30 p.m. Friday, American Airlines Center): The 15-13 Nuggets look like the Mavs’ most beatable foe of the week, but it doesn’t help that Dallas will be playing the butt end of a back-to-back. The Nuggets high-energy frontcourt could present big problems for the Mavs, the league’s last-ranked team in rebounding differential. Second-year power forward Kenneth Faried (12.1 ppg, 9.9 rpg), known as “The Manimal,” is the kind of player who gives the Mavs fits. However, the 6-foot-8 Faried should have a tough time contesting 7-footer Dirk Nowitzki’s shots. Six Nuggets score in double figures per game, including Mavs title-team castoff Corey Brewer, who is averaging 11.6 points off the bench.

San Antonio Spurs (6:30 p.m. Sunday, American Airlines Center): You just saw the Spurs beat the Mavs by 38 points. Need we say more?