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Hornets return home to host Mavericks

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Dirk Nowitzki and the lowly Dallas Mavericks make their annual visit to the Spectrum Center.

NBA: Preseason-Dallas Mavericks at Charlotte Hornets Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets return home from a four game trip out west and open a three-game home stand against Western Conference opponents. Up first? The Dallas Mavericks.

These Dallas Mavericks aren’t the Mavericks of old. This Mavericks team is just well, old. They are currently 13-28, and hold the third worst record in the Western Conference. Dallas enjoyed a surprise four-game win streak to close out the month of December, but since the calendar turned over, they have gone 0-3.

Dirk Nowitzki is 39-years-old and looking every bit of it. His points, rebounds, shots and minutes are the lowest they’ve been since his rookie season way back in 1998. Though in classic Dirk fashion, his shooting percentages are flirting with a 40/50/90 season.

As Dirk fades out, Harrison Barnes and Dennis Smith Jr. are emerging as the key pieces to Dallas’ future. Barnes is the team’s leading Dallas with 18 points and six rebound per game, but his field goal percentage isn’t quite where the Mavericks would like it to be.

Smith, meanwhile, is shooting like a rookie (39 percent from the floor, 33 percent from 3 and an alarming 64 percent from the free throw line) but the Mavericks are giving their young point guard every chance to play through it and grow on the floor. Smith has started all 33 games he’s appeared in, and gets the fourth-most amount of minutes on the team behind only Barnes, Wesley Matthews and Yogi Ferrell. Smith even recorded a triple-double a few weeks ago against the Pelicans,* scoring 21 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and handing out 10 assists while becoming the third-youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double.

*Note: I also write about the Pelicans and I can confirm Smith’s night was awesome albeit devastating. Like good for him and all, but damn man you really had to do that to my other team that’s kinda rude you know what I’m saying?

The Mavericks aren’t 13-28 by accident. Dallas is in the bottom third of the league in both scoring and rebounding. They are, however, a good 3-point shooting team and are percentage points from being a top-10 team in assists per game. Charlotte needs to be mindful of Dennis Smith Jr. or Yogi Ferrell drive and kicks because Dallas has a shown they can hit those.