February has been kind to the Dallas Mavericks, who will look to improve to 8-2 this month when they visit the New York Knicks on Monday. Dallas has won two straight and nine of its last 12 to establish a two-game cushion for the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff spot. Guard Vince Carter said the Mavericks' team focus has made a big difference of late, telling the Dallas Morning News, "Our approach is one game at a time. We're locked into our game plan and that's been key for us."After closing out January with four straight wins, the turn of the calendar has been disastrous for New York, which has lost two straight and eight of 10. Most recently, the Knicks have blown third quarter leads of 14 and 17 points to Orlando and Atlanta, respectively, leaving forward Carmelo Anthony frustrated as New York's playoff hopes are wilting away with each loss. "We're just giving away leads," Anthony told the New York Post, "We're giving away games at this point."TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBATV, FSN Southwest (Dallas), MSG (New York)ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (34-23): Dallas coach Rick Carlisle recently challenged his team to work harder on the glass and the Mavericks have responded. After dominating the boards 50-39 in Saturday's win over Detroit, which leads the NBA in total rebound percentage, Dallas has either bested or tied its opponents in the rebounding battle in eight of its last nine games. "They've taken the challenge and understand how important (rebounding) is to our success," Carlisle explained. Forward Dirk Nowitzki added, "When we're active on the glass, even against good rebounding teams, I like our chances."ABOUT THE KNICKS (21-35): As is often the case with a team whose season is spiraling out of control, change is afoot for New York. Coach Mike Woodson revealed Saturday that the Knicks are in the process of orchestrating contract buyouts for forward Metta World Peace and guard Beno Udrih. Neither player had been part of the regular rotation of late and New York is looking to go "in a different direction (and) find a spot or two for our ballclub," according to Woodson. Udrih averaged 5.6 points and 3.5 assists in 31 games in his first season with the Knicks, while World Peace posted a career-worst 4.8-point average in 29 games.BUZZER BEATERS 1. Dallas has won five of its last seven games against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.2. World Peace has seen the floor for a total of 15 minutes in February, while Udrih hasn't played since a 3-point effort in seven minutes of action against Charlotte Jan. 24.3. The Mavericks are two games over .500 on the road (16-14) for the first time since an 8-6 mark in February of 2012.PREDICTION: Mavericks 104, Knicks 99