(Sports Network) - The Dallas Mavericks hope to recapture some of their early season success tonight when they visit the Garden State to take on the New Jersey Nets.
The Mavs dropped their seventh game in eight tries on Thursday in Chicago when Derrick Rose scored a game-high 26 points to go along with nine assists as the Bulls edged Dallas, 82-77, at United Center.
In his third game back since returning from a sprained right knee, Dirk Nowitzki paced the Mavericks with 19 points, while Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson and Jason Terry each contributed 12 points.
"Very physical," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "Everything was contested pretty much the whole night. It was an old fashioned Eastern Conference type of game."
The Mavericks were once 24-5 and just 1 1/2 games behind the Southwest Division-leading Spurs when Nowitzki went down with his injury against Oklahoma City on Dec. 27. Since then Dallas has gone just 3-10 and now trails San Antonio by a significant margin.
The Nets aim to stay perfect on their five-game homestand when they welcome the Mavs to the Rock tonight. After beating Utah to open the residency, the Nets recorded an 89-74 triumph over Detroit last night behind 15 points from Brook Lopez.
Devin Harris had 12 points and nine assists, while Kris Humphries came off the bench to post 11 points and 12 boards for New Jersey, which has won consecutive games following a six-game slide and improved to 9-10 at home.
"We came out aggressive and really played our pace," Harris said. "I thought we got huge help from our bench today. Defensively we made a lot of good plays to keep the momentum our way."
New Jersey will also host Cleveland and Memphis on the homestand. Nets guard Anthony Morrow returned last night after missing 17 games due to a strained right hamstring and recorded 10 points.
Dallas, which is 12-7 on the road this season, has dropped five straight overall away from home, but has taken four straight and five of its past six versus the Nets, including a 102-89 triumph in Big D back on Dec. 9. The Mavs have won seven of 10 contests in the Garden State.