(Sports Network) - The reeling Dallas Mavericks hope to halt a season-worst six-game losing streak when they face off with the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers tonight in north Texas.
Dallas finished up a four-game road trip winless on Monday when Rodney Stuckey led a well-balanced attack with 20 points and six assists as the suddenly-hot Detroit Pistons defeated the Mavericks, 103-89, at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
It was Dallas superstar Dirk Nowitzki's second game back after missing nine games with a knee injury, but his return has not resonated with the team despite a 32-point, five-rebound and five-assist performance in the loss to the Pistons.
Jason Terry was the only other Dallas player to post double-digit scoring with 18 points.
"We're taking small steps," said Mavericks guard Jason Kidd. "It's not anything new as far as being in this league, you're going to play through your highs and lows and try to minimize the lows."
The Mavericks were once 24-5 and just 1 1/2 games behind the Southwest Division- leading Spurs when Nowitzki went down a sprained right knee suffered against Oklahoma City on Dec. 27. Since then Dallas has gone 2-9 and now trails San Antonio by 8 1/2 games.
The Mavs haven't lost seven consecutive games since Feb. 9-19, 1999.
The Lakers, meanwhile, won for the eighth time in nine games on Monday when Kobe Bryant supplied 21 points, seven assists and five rebounds, and Pau Gasol totaled 21 points and seven boards as Los Angeles held on for a 101-94 win over Oklahoma City at Staples Center.
Lamar Odom contributed 16 points and seven caroms, while Derek Fisher added a season-high 15 points for the Lakers, who bounced back from a Sunday loss to the Clippers. Andrew Bynum supplied 10 points and 10 boards in the victory.
"We shot the ball better tonight," Los Angeles head coach Phil Jackson said. "Our defense kept them under 100 points and that is a good thing. We had the energy to beat a very talented young team."
The Lakers have won eight of their past 10 meetings with the Mavericks, including three of the past four in Big D.