Trail Blazers-Mavericks Preview

After improving their road record, the Dallas Mavericks will

next try to change their recent fortunes at home.

A visit from the Portland Trail Blazers might help.

As they get set to begin a three-game stay at the American

Airlines Center, the Mavericks will attempt to avoid their longest

losing streak there in three seasons by taking advantage of the

Blazers’ struggles away from home Saturday night.

Dallas (16-11) started 2-5 on the road but recorded its fifth

win in six games there Friday, 104-97 over Minnesota. Dirk Nowitzki

scored a season-high 33 points and the Mavericks forced 28

turnovers – their most in a game in nearly eight years – while

finishing 2-1 on their three-game trip.

Jason Kidd also nearly had his first double-double of the season

(eight points, 10 assists) after missing seven games because of a

strained right calf.

“He’s a big part of our heart and soul. When we’re without him,

we can win some games but we’re not the same team,” coach Rick

Carlisle said.

Dallas, though, hasn’t fared as well lately at home, losing

three of five since a seven-game win streak. The Mavericks, though,

are out to avoid a three-game skid at American Airlines as Portland

(15-12) tries to shake its road funk.

The Blazers are 4-9 on the road, with two of those wins coming

against New Orleans, which is a league-worst 2-14 in its building.

Jamal Crawford had a season-best 31 points and eight assists

against the Hornets on Friday to help his team avoid a season

high-tying third straight defeat with a 94-86 victory.

Raymond Felton added 18 points, including four free throws in

the final minute.

“Sometimes it’s not about how you win but the fact that you

win,” coach Nate McMillan said. “We did the things we needed to do

down the stretch.”

While it’s succeeded in New Orleans, Portland has dropped 20 of

its last 25 games in Dallas in the regular season and playoffs. The

Blazers lost all three games there during a 4-2 defeat in last

year’s Western Conference quarterfinals and have dropped five in a

row overall.

The Blazers could use some help from Dallas native LaMarcus

Aldridge. The forward has cooled off a little since averaging 27.7

points over a six-game stretch, having scored a combined 27 over

the past two games.

Aldridge, though, has usually shined against the Mavericks – his

20.4-point average in the regular season is his best against any

Western Conference foe. He’s also scored 25.2 points per game

during his last five visits to his hometown, including the

playoffs.

Nowitzki led the way for the Mavericks during last year’s series

win with 27.3 points per game. A sore right knee caused him to miss

an 84-81 home victory Jan. 4, 2011.

During a rare start, Jason Terry made the clinching basket with

12 seconds remaining and finished with 18 points.

Nowitzki’s presence should help in this game as he’s averaging

28.0 points on 60.6 percent shooting over the last four contests.

The forward has also averaged 25.8 points over his last five

regular-season home games against Portland.

Dallas hasn’t dropped three straight at home since a four-game

skid to open the 2008-09 season.