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Mavericks-Kings Preview

The Dallas Mavericks know they need to come out with a better effort following back-to-back defeats.

A matchup against the Sacramento Kings could help them do just that.

The visiting Mavericks try to avoid their longest losing streak of the season Tuesday night against the Kings, who haven't enjoyed much success in the series over the last dozen years.

Dallas (26-12) had outscored opponents by an average of 13.5 points during a season best-tying six-game winning streak before falling 108-95 to Detroit on Wednesday. The Mavs ran into trouble again in Saturday's 120-100 loss to the Clippers on the first stop of a three-game trek.

Dallas hasn't been handed three consecutive losses since Feb. 28-March 5.

"Well, we're playing better teams the last two games, and we've got to elevate our game," coach Rick Carlisle told the team's official website. "You know, we weren't good enough against Detroit, and today we had another bad day. And so we've got to pick it up, because these games are difficult because they are a long ways from home, the venues are very tough and the teams are good."

The Mavs have won four straight and 35 of 42 against the Kings since March 2003 after taking this season's first meeting 106-98 on Nov. 11. Dirk Nowitzki led the way with 23 points as the Mavs stormed back from 24 down. Despite its dominance in the series, Dallas' three previous wins came by four points or less.

Nowitzki scored 25 against the Clippers for his highest total in six games and Monta Ellis added 23, but Rajon Rondo had another rough night. The recently acquired All-Star point guard finished with two points on 1 of 11 from the field after shooting 1 of 13 five days earlier.

"I got into the paint when I wanted to and made some plays, but I wasn't able to finish as good as I'm used to," Rondo said. "I've been working on my shot and my touch around the rim. I missed a couple that I can make in my sleep."

Dallas allowed Los Angeles to shoot 52.3 percent for its worst display since Dec. 5.

"I don't think defensively we were good enough," said Nowitzki, whose team is averaging 108.8 points to rank second in the NBA. "It just puts too much pressure on your offense to go down there and score every time. And offensively I think we're working on some stuff with Rondo and with the spacing. We've just got to keep getting better on both ends of the floor. We've still got a lot of work to do."

The Kings (16-21) have alternated wins and losses over their last six games after easily getting by Cleveland 103-84 on Sunday. DeMarcus Cousins filled the box score with 26 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, a season high-tying four steals and three blocks.

The Kings, who improved to 5-8 under coach Tyrone Corbin, are allowing an average of 83.5 points in their last two wins compared to an average of 116.0 in their last two defeats.

"I know when we do play we are pretty hard to beat," point guard Darren Collison said. "It's a learning process. The thing that's been it for us is being inconsistent as a team. When we commit to playing defense, then it becomes a lot easier for us."

Cousins, averaging 29.3 points over a six-game stretch at home, is averaging 29.7 in his last three home starts against Dallas. The Kings are 8-3 overall when he scores at least 25.

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