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3 things to watch as the Mavericks take on the Knicks

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The Mavericks look to end their two-game slide.

NBA: New York Knicks at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks (13-27) will host the New York Knicks (18-21) for the first time this season tonight in Dallas at the American Airlines Center.

The four-game home stand hasn’t gone according to plan so far, with the Mavericks dropping the first two games to the Golden State Warriors (125-122) and the Chicago Bulls (127-124). The Mavericks had opportunities to get the win in both games, but weren’t able to finish strong.

The Knicks have only won two of their last ten games and come to Dallas nursing a three-game losing streak.

Here are three things to watch for in tonight’s game.

The Mavs must defend better

In the last four games, Dallas is allowing a woeful 121.25 points. It was a major talking point for the team after last night’s loss to the Bulls.

“We all own it,” Rick Carlisle said. “The starters were abysmal to start the game and our second unit was abysmal to start the fourth. So we all got our name on it.”

Dirk added that the team can’t get stuck in a shot-trading mentality and they have to dig deep on the defensive end.

Derek Harper’s jersey retirement

Tonight will be a special moment for Mavericks great Derek Harper as his jersey hangs from the rafters of the AAC. In his 12 seasons with the Mavs, Harp averaged 14.4 points, 5.9 assists and 2.6 rebounds. Now his smooth, dulcet tones are heard over the airwaves as he calls games along with Mark Followill.

Michael Beasley

Knicks fans have been through a lot in the past, but somehow one of the brightest moments has been the resurgence of Michael Beasley. After Carmelo Anthony’s departure, Beasley has managed to carry some of the scoring load. In his last 10 games, he’s averaging 17.3 points and 7.8 rebounds while shooting 53.8 percent from the field.

My favorite Beasley moment this season has to be after he scored 32 points on the Celtics, and was was asked about his hot shooting and when he felt like it began. Of course his answer was “January 9, 1989” (his birthday).

How to watch

Tonight’s game tips off at 6:00 p.m. Central. You can watch it on Fox Sports Southwest locally or on NBA League Pass outside of the Dallas area.