The Dallas Mavericks suffered a big blow when they lost 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki to knee surgery. O.J. Mayo's play of late has made Nowitzki's absence a little easier to withstand.
Having scored 30 or more points in consecutive games, Mayo will try to keep that streak going Wednesday night against the visiting Toronto Raptors.
The Mavericks (3-1) signed Mayo with the hopes of capturing their second NBA title in three seasons but Dallas first has to weather the loss of Nowitzki, who is expected to miss the next six weeks. The team will also play without starting forward Shawn Marion for at least three games because of a sprained left knee ligament.
Mayo has done his best to try to fill that large scoring void over the past two games. He had 30 points in a 126-99 win over Charlotte on Saturday and scored a season-high 32 in a 114-91 victory against Portland on Monday, his 25th birthday.
"Obviously, (Nowitzki's) our franchise player," Mayo said. "With him going down, we understand that all the guys have to step up and play that much harder and when he does get here, we're ready to roll."
After missing the first two games with a strained right calf, the Mavericks' Chris Kaman has contributed 16 points in each of his team's first two home games and made 16 of 19 shots. New point guard Darren Collison has also proved a consistent performer, averaging 16.5 points and 8.5 assists.
"(Owner Mark Cuban) didn't just bring in new pieces. He brought in guys who can play," Collison said. "O.J. had a lot of experience in Memphis. ... I had the chance to get playoff exposure in Indiana too."
With those players, Dallas will seek its first 4-1 start since 2007-08 and try to earn a third consecutive victory over Toronto (1-3). The Mavericks have won 11 of the past 12 home meetings with the Raptors, including a 99-86 win Dec. 30 in last season's only meeting between the teams.
Toronto earned its lone win on Sunday, 105-86 over Minnesota, but couldn't build on that effort two days later in Oklahoma City. The Raptors shot 35.7 percent in a 108-88 loss to the Thunder, and only three players scored in double figures.
Jonas Valanciunas was one of the lone bright spots as he tallied 18 points to match his total from his first three NBA games.
The Raptors might have suffered a big loss with point guard Kyle Lowry having to leave in the second quarter with a sprained right ankle. Jose Calderon could start in place of Lowry, who is averaging 18.3 points, on Wednesday.
"Jose is a veteran player and he'll be ready to go," coach Dwane Casey said. "That's why I kept his minutes to a minimum tonight. He'll have to play big minutes and John (Lucas III) is a capable point guard, so they'll have to be ready to go. Knowing Kyle, he's a tough guy and he'll get back as soon as he can.'
Mayo has averaged 15.0 points over eight career matchups with Toronto and a 38.8 shooting percentage hasn't helped. He missed seven of 10 shots and scored 10 points during an overtime loss for Memphis on March 16.
Kaman has averaged 20.3 points and 10.5 rebounds in his past four matchups with the Raptors.
Andrea Bargnani scored 30 points in last season's loss to Dallas and has averaged 23.0 in his last four meetings.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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