Final

Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 12/21

Game 1: Friday, December 21st
Clippers89Final
Mavericks102
Game 2: Saturday, January 12th
Mavericks95Final
Clippers94
Game 3: Tuesday, March 25th
Clippers90Final
Mavericks103
Game 4: Monday, March 31st
Mavericks93Final
Clippers86

Mavericks 93

(46-28, 16-21 away)

Clippers 86

(22-52, 13-25 home)

Coverage: FSSW

7:30 PM ET, March 31, 2008

STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

1 2 3 4 T
DAL 29 23 17 2493
LAC 24 16 20 2686

Top Performers

Dal: J. Kidd 27 Pts, 3 Reb, 4 Ast, 4 Stl, 1 Blk

LAC: A. Thornton 26 Pts, 7 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

Mavericks-Clippers Preview

STATS LLC

For the struggling Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Clippers are a sight for sore eyes.

After their 11th straight defeat against a winning team and their fifth loss in six games overall, the Mavericks hope to take advantage of a favorable matchup as they visit the Clippers on Monday.

Dallas (45-28) hasn't fared well during a stretch of games against some of the league's top teams. The Mavericks have dropped five of six, with the losses coming at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston, San Antonio, Denver and Golden State. The lone win was a 103-90 home victory over the Clippers (22-51) on Tuesday.

Since that game, Dallas has dropped the first two games of a three-game trip, including a 114-104 loss at Golden State on Sunday. The Mavericks have lost their last 11 games against teams with winning records, 10 of those since they acquired point guard Jason Kidd from New Jersey in a blockbuster deal during the All-Star break.

Sunday's defeat dropped Dallas into a three-way tie for seventh place in the West with Golden State and Denver. Nine games remain for each team, but the upcoming schedule for Dallas appears imposing. After this game, the Mavericks host Golden State before a two-game road trip to play Pacific Division powers the Lakers and Phoenix.

"I'm not excited for us," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. "We'd like to be third or fourth. We don't want to be part of this three team, seventh seed or eighth seed or whatever."

The upcoming stretch will be particularly challenging for the Mavs with Dirk Nowitzki expected to remain sidelined due to knee and ankle injuries he suffered in a loss to San Antonio last Sunday. Dallas has dropped two of three since then, and is 1-3 overall when playing without their leading scorer and rebounder.

"With Dirk or without Dirk, it's going to be tough," Kidd said. "With the West, there are no nights off, you've got to play your best game each night and everybody's fighting not just for the playoffs but for seeding. One game can move you up or down so this is what basketball is all about. You want to be in a competitive situation and I'm right in the middle of it."

Josh Howard has stepped up in Nowitzki's absence, averaging 32.7 points in his last three games.

While the Mavericks have struggled against the league's elite, they've managed to beat the teams they're expected to. Since the Kidd trade, Dallas is 10-0 against clubs with losing records.

That designation certainly applies to the Clippers, who have lost 18 of their last 21 games. Los Angeles, however, snapped its season-high 10-game skid Saturday with a 110-97 win over Memphis.

Rookie Al Thornton scored a season-high 39 points to lead five Clippers players in double figures. Thornton, the 14th overall pick in last June's draft, is averaging 16.7 points in 32 games since Jan. 30, and ranks second among rookies with 12.3 points per game this season. Only Seattle's Kevin Durant (19.9) has scored more.

"It's definitely been a grind, but it's been fun," Thornton said. "The most important thing is that it's been a learning experience. I think I've improved a lot under (Clippers coach) Mike Dunleavy."

Thornton has been held to 17 total points in three games against the Mavericks, who have won each of those meetings to extend their win streak in the series to five games.

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