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90


NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, January 25th (All times eastern)

Minnesota Timberwolves (7-10) at Dallas Mavericks (11-7), 8:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Dallas Mavericks should have a little extra jump in their step this evening as they look to avenge a New Year's Day loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The defending champions will get their championship rings prior to the start of tonight's game and will then look to go out and extend a seven-game home winning streak without star Dirk Nowitzki.

Getting his ring to commemorate Dallas' first ever championship will be the only action Nowitzki will see tonight. The star forward and 2011 NBA Finals MVP will miss his third straight game to rest a sore right knee and is also likely to sit out Friday's game versus Utah before a possible return on Sunday against San Antonio.

Dallas has won both games Nowitzki has missed so far as well as three straight and eight of 10 overall. Shawn Marion stepped up in his teammates absence on Monday, sinking 29 points to lead the Mavericks to a 93-87 win over the Suns.

Marion, who played his first eight-plus NBA seasons for Phoenix, scored 17 of his 29 points in the second half to help Dallas win its seventh straight at home. The Mavs haven't lost as the host since dropping consecutive games to Miami and Denver on Dec. 25-26 to begin the season.

"My teammates are looking for me," Marion said. "I've been able to do a lot of different things on the floor. This is about just helping my teammates."

Ian Mahinmi added 17 points and Jason Terry scored 12 in the victory, both off the bench. Dallas also played a fourth game in a row without Vince Carter (sprained left foot), but still extended its franchise record of holding opponents under 100 points to 15 straight games.

"The end number looks good. Holding them under 90 looks good. But we still have areas to clean up," noted Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle. "We're still making too many mistakes. We go through periods where our energy and alertness aren't where they need to be. That's my job to stay after our guys and keeping working to get things in the right direction."

Dallas, which shares the Southwest Division lead with San Antonio, plays the second of a four-game homestand this evening looking to avenge a 99-82 road loss to Minnesota. The Timberwolves used 25 points and 17 rebounds from Kevin Love, as well as a game-ending 15-0 run, to snap a five-game slide to the Mavericks and beat the defending champs for only the second time in the past 20 encounters.

Nowitzki paced Dallas with 21 points and the Mavericks have still won three straight and 10 of their last 11 at home in this series.

Love had another big game on Monday, notching 39 points and 12 rebounds in a 107-92 loss to the Rockets. The 23-year-old hit all five of his three-point attempts and shot 13-of-19 from the floor overall, although he did sit out the final few minutes with an apparent eye injury as Minnesota lost its second straight following a three-game win streak.

Minnesota took a five-point edge on a Derrick Williams dunk in the third, but Houston responded with a 19-1 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters and put the game away. Fatigue was perhaps a factor as the Timberwolves dressed just nine players due to injury and Wes Johnson being a late scratch due to the flu.

"I don't know if we got tired, but we turned it over at the end of the third quarter, they took a five-point lead and kind of stretched it out, and that was it," said Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman.

J.J. Barea (ankle), Michael Beasley (foot), Malcolm Lee (knee), Brad Miller (knee) and Martell Webster (back) all missed the game due to injury and none are expected to play tonight, though Johnson could return to action.

Barea will also receive his championship ring after notching 9.5 points and 3.9 assists per game in 81 contests with the Mavericks last season. He also averaged 8.9 points per game in the playoffs before signing with the T-Wolves this offseason.

Love will likely be celebrating himself before tonight's game after agreeing to a new contract. The All-Star, who has registered a double-double in 16 of 17 games this season, would have become a restricted free agent this summer if he didn't sign a new deal before tonight's deadline.

However, it was reported that he and the Wolves have agreed to a new four- year, $62 million deal that gives Love an opt-out after three seasons.

01/25 13:38:45 ET