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Dallas entered it's game with Utah on Friday night off to its best start in nearly a decade. And it would be easy to guess that the Mavericks' success is due to its potent offense, led by Dirk Nowitzki.

Guess again.

The Mavs, who hadn't won 15 games this quickly since starting 17-1 in 2002-03, also are playing defense. Dallas has held nine of its 18 opponents below their scoring average, seven times in the American Airlines Arena. They provided a measuring stick for the Jazz, who were found wanting in the 93-81 final.

"They have all veteran players, pretty much, on their team," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "They've got guys who know what they are doing. I just think they're an excellent team. They don't make many mistakes."

Nowitzki, averaging more than 24 points, recently was named the Western Conference Player of the Week. Dallas' four-game sweep of Detroit, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Miami was engineered by more than just one player.

The Mavs' frontline, including Shawn Marion off the bench, has been dominating opponents. Meanwhile, veteran guard Jason Kidd is creating as well as he ever had. He's averaging 9.3 assists.

On Nov. 12, Kidd recorded his 11,000th assist on an alley-oop dunk by teammate Tyson Chandler, becoming only the second player to ever record that total.

"It's always good to play against him," Utah guard Deron Williams said. "Somebody I grew up watching. He's a great competitor. It seems like he doesn't age."

Kidd's motivation is also spurred by a possible championship. He has played the most playoff games of any active player who has not won a championship.

"He's a great player," Sloan said. "He doesn't have to score points. … He'll make big shots on you, but I've always said guys who pass the ball make their teammates much happier. It's hard to be disgruntled when a guy's giving you the ball in an easy place for you to do something with it."

"They're playing as well as anybody right now," Williams said. "They are a lot better defensively than they've been in the past. They've always had weapons on offense. I just think they are a lot better."

Maverick milestones

• On Nov. 12, Dallas guard Jason Kidd recorded his 11,000th career assist, the second player to ever total that many.

• Dirk Nowitzki was named Western Conference Player of the Week.

• Dallas hasn't won 15 games this quickly since starting 17-1 in 2002-03.