NBA Preview: Mavericks at Suns

Mavericks at Suns

Two teams looking to snap lengthy slides will square off when the Phoenix Suns host the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. The Suns are returning home after watching their losing streak hit five straight with setbacks at Houston and Memphis while the Mavericks are kicking off a four-game road trip and trying to end a four-game slide.

Dallas is fighting through a series of slow starts and has not reached 100 points in any of the last five games. “You know, it’s the same old story,” Mavericks small forward Harrison Barnes told reporters after a 95-88 loss to the Miami Heat on Monday. “It’s how we’re starting games and how we’re going about these games. And the last couple of minutes of the fourth quarter we’ve shown that we can have these comebacks, but that’s not the issue. It’s what we’re doing before that to put ourselves in that position.” Dallas should not have trouble reaching the century mark against the Suns, who rank last in the NBA in scoring defense (112.3 points) and were ripped 120-109 by the lowly Memphis Grizzlies on Monday. “We still have to be better at the defensive end,” Suns interim coach Jay Triano told reporters after Monday’s setback. “Allowing them to shoot 50 percent from the 3 and 50 percent from the field, that’s not good enough.”

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, FS Southwest (Dallas), FS Arizona (Phoenix)

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ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (16-35): Star rookie Dennis Smith Jr. recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists on Monday but contributed to his team’s offensive woes by going 4-of-17 from the floor. The 23.5-percent shooting effort marked the third time in the last four games that the NC State product failed to hit even 30 percent of his shots, dropping his season shooting percentage to 39.7. Power forward Dirk Nowitzki is well off his Hall of Fame peak as well and is shooting 27.7 percent from the floor over the last five games after a 3-of-11 effort on Monday.

ABOUT THE SUNS (17-34): Phoenix was without leading scorer Devin Booker on Monday after he suffered a rib injury in a loss at Houston on Sunday. Booker, who had x-rays come back negative, had one of his best all-around games against the Rockets with 31 points and 10 assists in 41 minutes and is considered questionable for Wednesday. “These are the tough days for the NBA,” Triano told reporters after running through his list of injuries on Monday. “We’re seeing a lot of major injuries, guys nicked up and hurt. It’s one of the things our young players have to learn. How do you manage an 82-game season? … Good teams take a dip. Part of the growth of young players is how do you manage 82 games and stay locked in and focused and healthy.”

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Suns PF Marquese Chriss (ankle) sat out Monday and is day-to-day.

2. Mavericks PG J.J. Barea (oblique) missed the last two games and is questionable for Wednesday.

3. Booker was out with a groin injury when Phoenix earned a 97-91 win at Dallas on Dec. 18.

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