After locking in defensively against New Orleans, Mavs look to replicate that performance versus Spurs

DALLAS — After successfully bringing to an end their eight-game losing streak with Sunday’s 91-81 victory at home over New Orleans, the Dallas Mavericks will try to carry that momentum forward against another familiar foe Wednesday night.

Welcoming in the Southwest Division-leading San Antonio Spurs, the Mavericks will try to build on Sunday’s performance during the second outing of eight out of 10 games at home. The Mavs will also attempt to avenge a 96-91 loss in San Antonio on Nov. 21 after putting up a valiant fight without the services of 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki (right Achilles strain), starting point guard Deron Williams (left calf strain), center Andrew Bogut (calf), undersized guard J.J. Barea (left calf strain) and fellow veteran Devin Harris (right great toe sprain). And according to swingman Wesley Matthews, the Mavs could find themselves with back-to-back wins on their home floor by simply replicating the effort that they displayed against a tough New Orleans team.

“Obviously, it feels good. But the gift and the curse of this league is you’ve got another one,” Matthews said. “We’ve got the Spurs coming in town on Wednesday, and it’s a game that obviously is going to be a tough one. But if we go into it with the mentality that we had (Sunday) on Wednesday and go into it with the mentality that we actually let that one go in San Antonio, we could have easily come away with a victory there. If we come out with a revenge mentality, I like our chances. It’s still a long season. And if we do like we did (Sunday), we’ll get ourselves right back in the hunt.”

Locking in defensively against New Orleans’ high-scoring attack, the Mavericks collected a much-needed victory on their home floor. They’ll now try to duplicate that defensive performance Wednesday night against the Spurs (14-3), looking to even the season series at 1-1 as the scene shifts to American Airlines Center.

New Orleans came into Sunday’s showdown with an offensive rating of 110.3 in its previous five games, ranking seventh in the league during that span.  The Mavs then suffocated their division rivals at the defensive end to hold the Pelicans to just 39 percent from the field and 5-of-20 shooting from behind the three-point arc. And after also converting New Orleans’ 13 turnovers into 19 points at the other end of the floor, the Mavericks may have found their blueprint for success this season.

“I think the biggest thing for us is our starts. You know, getting off on the right foot and getting our stops. And as the game goes through, makes or misses, I don’t think we’re really worried about that right now,” leading scorer Harrison Barnes explained. “We’re confident that somewhere along the line we’ll get some scoring from somebody, but just defensively we’re staying connected. We’re just grinding. I think we’re still a team where we haven’t really found our identity, so hopefully these last couple of games can give us that defensive mindset every single night that we can control.”

The Dallas defense held the Pelicans to just 13-of-34 shooting in the second half, scrambling for stops while outscoring New Orleans 47-39 during the final two quarters. They’ll now attempt to carry that defensive execution over to the opening quarter against the surging Spurs, who have won nine games in a row overall and enter Wednesday’s game with a perfect 10-0 record on the road.

Scoring a career high-tying 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting and 5 of 10 from three-point range, sharpshooter Seth Curry supplied the offense for the shorthanded Mavericks in that previous loss to the Spurs. Meanwhile, Matthews and Barnes added 20 points apiece in the loss as the Mavericks outshot the Spurs for the game, 47.3 percent to 46.7 percent. The Mavs also finished with a 40-39 rebounding edge, converting San Antonio’s 14 turnovers into 14 points. The Mavericks could now once again find themselves in a position to collect a win with a similar display and more of their top contributors available Wednesday night. But after seeing the Spurs capture a win in the first meeting between the two teams without perennial All-Star big man LaMarcus Aldridge and former Finals MVP Tony Parker, the Mavs know they’ll once again have their hands full.

“I’m sure they’re going to play some different guys and we’re going to see some different lineups, but I think the biggest thing for us is this defensive mentality,” Barnes proclaimed. “You know, taking the stops that we had in the second half and bringing that to the beginning of this next game.”

Note: The Mavericks will now return to American Airlines Center on Wednesday, hosting the San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio leads the season series 1-0 after a 96-91 home win on Nov. 21. That game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. It will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

Devin Harris (right great toe sprain) — questionable

Deron Williams (left calf strain) — probable

Dirk Nowitzki (right Achilles strain) — out

J.J. Barea (left calf strain) — out