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Mavericks-Clippers Preview


STATS Senior Writer

(AP) -- Riding a three-game winning streak, the Dallas Mavericks feel they're better prepared than the last time they faced the Los Angeles Clippers.

Looking to match their longest winning stretch of the season, the visiting Mavericks hope to avenge a loss earlier this month to a Clippers team that's also trying for a fourth straight victory Wednesday night.

Dallas (23-16) averaged 108.5 points and shot 49.0 percent while sweeping a home-and-home set with New Orleans then rolled to a 107-88 victory over lowly Orlando on Monday. The Mavericks are seven games above .500 for the first time since the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season and have bounced back from a stretch of three losses in four games.

That slide began with a 119-112 defeat to Los Angeles (26-13) at home Jan. 3. The Clippers overcame the loss of star Chris Paul to a separated shoulder and a seven-point deficit in the final 4 minutes to beat the Mavericks for the fifth time in seven games.

Dallas couldn't build on a perfect three-game trip that preceded the previous matchup with the Clippers, but after bouncing back from the recent rough stretch it feels better equipped to handle this rematch and difficult games with fellow playoff contenders Phoenix and Portland that follow.

"I think our mindset is different heading into this game on a three-game winning streak," said guard Monta Ellis, who had a team-high 21 points Monday. "Hopefully we continue with it."

Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 and Shawn Marion added 20 points against the Clippers two weeks ago, but Marion could miss a fifth straight game with a sore shoulder. If so, the Mavericks might need to again rely on a bench that outscored the Magic reserves 42-14. Vince Carter highlighted that production with 17 points and Wayne Ellington added 12 for Dallas, which last won four in a row Nov. 16-22.

"If they continue to keep that up, we can make a run for a couple of games in a row," Ellis told the Mavericks' official website.

They first have to get by the Clippers, who have won five of six overall and are 17-3 at home. Los Angeles has been off since a 123-87 rout of the in-house rival Lakers on Friday.

Veteran Darren Collison has filled in nicely for Paul, who could miss up to five weeks. Collison had 20 points against the Mavericks, and has averaged 17.5 on 65.9 percent shooting and 6.5 assists as a starter in the four games that followed.

"It's just (a matter of) letting the game come to you and picking and choosing your spots," he told the Clippers' official website. "Those shots are going to come.

"For me, as a point guard it's making sure other guys get touches. I know I can get my touches whenever I can. It's not forcing the issue and playing within the system."

Collison continues to get the ball to Blake Griffin, who has scored 62 points on 21-of-29 shooting in the last two contests. He had 33 along with 12 rebounds, four steals, four assists and two blocked shots against the Lakers.

"Blake is doing everything for us, rebounding and defending," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "He is a great passer. It gets lost in his fancy dunks."

Griffin had 25 points, 15 boards and five assists at Dallas earlier this month.

Nowitzki has totaled 57 points and shot 57.9 percent in the last two games versus Los Angeles - both at home. However, he's been held to a combined 32 on 35.5 percent shooting in his last two on the road in the series.

Updated January 14, 2014

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