The Dallas Mavericks' five-game winning streak is over, but their biggest scare in a blowout loss came when Dirk Nowitzki briefly went down with a sprained left ankle.
He doesn't expect to miss any time, yet the Mavericks' final stop before the All-Star break is a venue where few go to get healthy.
Nowitzki and the Mavericks look to bounce back Wednesday night in Indiana, where the Pacers will try to cap their dominant first half with a 26th victory in 28 home games.
The Mavericks' winning streak came to an unceremonious end with a 114-89 loss at Charlotte on Tuesday, and they lost Nowitzki in the second quarter. The 12-time All-Star returned after halftime and scored 14 points in the final 24 minutes, saying after the game that he'd play Wednesday as Dallas (31-22) tries to get back on track.
"(Tuesday) was definitely a step back," Nowitzki told the team's official website. "You know, we've got to finish strong before the break now and hopefully have a good outing (in Indiana) against a very, very good team."
The Mavericks dominated the paint during their winning streak, putting up 44.8 points per game in the lane while allowing only 32.4, but that interior strength was nowhere to be found Tuesday. Al Jefferson finished with 30 points as the Bobcats scored 60 points in the paint, tied for the most Dallas had given up all season.
The Bobcats made 45 field goals and had a franchise-record 42 assists - eight more than the next-highest total the Mavericks have allowed in 2013-14. Dallas also forced a season-low nine turnovers.
The Mavericks will try to immediately put their most lopsided loss of the season behind them against a Pacers team that's coming off its most dominant victory in more than a decade. David West led the way with 25 points Monday as Indiana recovered from a one-point loss in Orlando a night earlier to roll past Denver 119-80.
The Pacers' points and 57.5 shooting percentage were both season highs as the Eastern Conference's best team improved to 25-2 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The 39-point margin was the largest for Indiana (40-11) since a 140-89 win against Chicago on March 28, 2003.
"We played the game the right way," said West, who's averaged 22.8 points and shot 65.0 percent from the field in his last four games. "We finished what we talked about doing, in terms of finishing around the rim and concentrating late in our shots. We didn't shoot the ball great from the 3-point line but our defense was engaged and in the right mode to get us some extra possessions."
West was the third player in as many games to lead the Pacers in scoring as Indiana improved to 22-1 when it records more than its season average of 20.5 assists.
"With this team, everybody makes everybody else look good, honestly," said sixth man Danny Granger. "We have so many weapons that you just pass the ball and somebody will make a shot. ... We can call so many plays for so many different people."
The Pacers have won the last three meetings against Dallas, beating the Mavericks by a combined 45 points in last season's two contests. Nowitzki missed the first one as he recovered from right knee surgery.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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