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Dallas Mavericks Vs. Utah Jazz: Mavs Begin Final Road Trip Of 2011

(Sports Network) - The playoff-bound Dallas Mavericks will begin their final road trip of the regular season tonight, when they visit the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena in the opener of a six-game western trek.

Dallas is 24-10 away from Big D and will also visit the Suns, Clippers, Lakers, Warriors and Trail Blazers. The club is currently 6 1/2 games behind San Antonio in the Southwest Division and 1 1/2 games in back of the Lakers for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference with 11 to play.

The Mavericks have won two in a row since losing three of four games and finished a three-game homestand with a 2-1 mark following Thursday's 104-96 win over the Kevin Love-less Minnesota Timberwolves. Love is out with a strained groin while Dirk Nowitzki finished with 30 points and 11 rebounds for the victors. Jason Terry had 18 points in the win.

"It wasn't pretty tonight, we were a little rusty there in the first half," Nowitzki said. "We missed a lot of shots, wide open shots actually, and in the second half we really had to fight for it. Give Minnesota credit, they really made us work, they made shots down the stretch and they really made us reach deep."

The Mavs have won 50 games in each of the previous 11 seasons and got 16 points in a reserve role from Peja Stojakovic. Nowitzki has made his last 63 free throw attempts, which is the longest streak in the NBA this season. The Mavericks are 39-4 this season when scoring 100-plus points in a game and own a 23-6 mark in the previous 29 games.

Utah hopes to put the brakes on a four-game losing streak when it continues a homestand Saturday night.

The Jazz started the four-game stay in Salt Lake City with a 121-117 overtime loss to the New Orleans Hornets, as Paul Millsap totaled 33 points and 11 rebounds in a losing effort.

"Everybody's working hard," Millsap told "Nobody wants to lose; it just happened. A guy hit a tough shot. They just had more energy than we did."

Millsap was referring to Bobcats center Emeka Okafor's circus shot that tied the game at the end of regulation.

Al Jefferson had 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Jazz, who have dropped six of eight games overall and fell to 20-16 as the host. The Jazz will also welcome the Wizards and Lakers to town, and are four games off the eighth and final postseason spot in the West with nine games remaining. They haven't missed the playoffs since 2005-06.

In injury news for Utah, guard Devin Harris (hamstring) and forward Andrei Kirilenko (knee) are both questionable versus the Mavericks. Harris has missed back-to-back games and Kirilenko did not play versus the Hornets. Harris was acquired in the deal that sent Deron Williams to New Jersey and is averaging 14.6 points and 5.2 assists in 13 contests with the Jazz.

Dallas is trying to sweep a season series from Utah for the first time since winning all three matchups during the 2004-05 campaign. It has won the first three matchups of this season and five of the past seven contests between the teams. The Mavericks, however, have lost seven of 10 and 10 of the previous 14 trips to Salt Lake City.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.