Keeping pace with Spurs, Mavs hit road

MIAMI – The Dallas Mavericks completed their first 26 games with a decisive win over Phoenix on Saturday. It was a important for Dallas to do well in its starting stretch because 17 of those games were at home.

With a record of 21-5 (13-4 at home), which included a 12-game win streak, much has gone right. Yet, the Mavs have yet to spend a day alone in first place in the Southwest Division, and after going 14-1 over their last 15 games, they’ve barely scratched a couple of games off the San Antonio Spurs’ lead.

“Not even that,” said Dirk Nowitzki, noting the Mavs have moved from three games back to two entering Monday's games. “They’re playing well. They’ve been fortunate on a couple games. Obviously, we’ve been following them and they snuck out in overtime again (Saturday night against Memphis). It almost seems like they’ve changed their philosophy around a little bit. They’re playing a lot more offense and they’re giving up more points.

“But, for some reason, the Spurs just always win. It doesn’t matter. They used to win 75-74 and now they win 110-109.”

It’s the Mavs who have been more apt to win the low-scoring games, and they’ll need to harness the brand of defense they showed in the first half of the winning streak as the schedule begins to go the other way a bit.

The Mavs will play five of their next seven on the road, starting with a difficult back-to-back at Miami on Monday night and Orlando on Tuesday. After a five-day holiday break, the Mavs resume at Oklahoma City on Dec. 27.

Not that a little road work is particularly a bad thing since Dallas is 8-1 away from home, including wins at Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Denver and Utah.

“I don’t necessarily think it was the schedule. We just wanted to get off to a great start,” Jason Terry said. “The last couple of years we kind of eased our way into it and had to nip and fight every step of the way. It’s still a fight, but we’ve positioned ourselves now to have a great season.”