After overcoming a major nemesis, the Dallas Mavericks look to continue their dominance of the Portland Trail Blazers when the teams meet Saturday night at the Rose Garden.
Dallas has won 13 straight against Portland, including six in a row on the road. The Mavericks have not lost to the Blazers since a 97-88 defeat on Dec. 23, 2003.
The last four meetings haven't even been close, with Dallas winning by an average of 15.2 points. Mavericks (4-1) superstar Dirk Nowitzki, though, hasn't had much of an impact, scoring only 11 points in each of the last two matchups.
Nowitzki had a big impact on Thursday night's game at Golden State, scoring eight of his 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Mavericks hung on for a 120-115 victory. The win gave a significant mental boost to Mavericks, who got upset by the Warriors in the opening round of last season's playoffs and had also dropped five consecutive regular-season meetings between the teams.
"It was very important for us at this point in the season, knowing they beat us four or five times last year," said Dallas guard Jason Terry, who came off the bench to score 24 points. "We came in and got the monkey off our back."
Thursday's victory was the third straight for the Mavericks, who are off to their best start since also opening 4-1 in 2004-05. They began last season 0-4 before reeling off 12 consecutive wins.
After spending most of last season as a starter, Terry has been even more effective in his new sixth-man role.
The speedy guard is averaging 23.0 points through five games - an increase of more than six points from last season. He is also shooting a stellar 62.5 percent (15-of-24) from 3-point range while handing out 4.8 assists per contest.
After losing all three games on a season-opening road trip, the Trail Blazers (2-3) made it two straight home wins with a 110-98 victory Friday over Memphis.
LaMarcus Aldridge matched a personal best with 30 points and Brandon Roy and Jarrett Jack each added 22 for Portland, which rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit and set season highs in points and field-goal percentage (51.2).
Roy scored 18 in the pivotal second half.
"We want the ball in the hands of our best player,'' Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "That's what other teams do. In Denver, the ball is in Carmelo (Anthony)'s hands. The Lakers put the ball in Kobe (Bryant)'s hands, and we want Brandon to have it.''
Point guard Steve Blake had seven points and eight assists in his second consecutive start.
After watching his team average only 90.0 points in the first three games, McMillan inserted Blake into the starting lineup over Jarrett Jack. With Blake running the offense, the Blazers have averaged 101.5 points.
Jack, meanwhile, has had his two best games of the season coming off the bench, averaging 20.5 points while shooting 12-for-20 from the field.
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