In a battle between two non-playoff teams, the Dallas Mavericks (22–50) look to snap a current four-game losing streak as they take on the Charlotte Hornets (32–41) tonight at American Airlines Center.
In the first meeting between the two clubs back on January 10th, the Mavericks came out victorious 115–111 despite facing severe scheduling obstacles. The Mavericks overcame a lot as they were playing their fifth game in just eight days, their third game in four days and their second of a rare home-road back-to-back. After beating Orlando on January 9th, the Mavericks traveled late-night across a time zone, losing an hour along the way, before landing in Charlotte around 3 a.m. To top things off, the Hornets were off for four days where they were able to practice two days without playing in a game. Crazy.
The last matchup was defined by the second quarter of the game. The Mavericks outscored the Hornets 39–24 in the 2nd quarter, thanks to four three-pointers by the club. On the night, Yogi Ferrell was fantastic, hitting 7 of 10 attempts from distance. The Hornets made a late run in large part due to Kemba Walker’s 41 points but were hurt by their inability to finish at the free throw line. The team converted just 15 of 30 attempts on the night, highlighted by Dwight Howard’s 5 of 18 line.
To get you prepared for tonight, let’s run through two things to monitor.
Containment of Kemba and Dwight
During the last two games, the Hornets have embarked on history thanks to both Dwight and Kemba. On Monday night, Dwight Howard literally decided he wanted to become Superman, posting a rare “30–30” game as he scored 32 points and brought down 30 rebounds. It was just the second 30–30 in the last 36 years. Here is the list of 30–30 games since Wilt Chamberlain did it with regularity:
Yeah, quite amazing.
To back things up — Kemba led the Hornets to an absurd 61 point trashing of the pitiful Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night, 140–79. Behind Kemba’s 46 points which included 10 3s in just 28 minutes of action, the Hornets could not be stopped. It was the largest margin of victory in Charlotte’s history.
The Mavericks have a chance to pull this game out tonight if they can contain one of the two from Dwight to Kemba. But if both get it going, forget about it.
Dennis Smith’s Health
The Mavericks star rookie, Dennis Smith, Jr. will play tonight after missing two straight games with a left ankle sprain. Smith told the media yesterday, “I’m here to play basketball so whenever I’m able to compete, I’m going to go out and do that.”
It’ll be interesting to see how much the Mavericks decide to play Smith as the team recently signed Aaron Harrison as guard insurance. With just ten games remaining on the schedule, the Mavericks should remain cautious with their star rookie guard.
Tonight’s game tips off at 7:30 p.m. CST and can be seen locally on Fox Sports Southwest.
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