After extending their home winning streak against one opponent, the Dallas Mavericks' next task is to maintain the longest current winning streak among North America's four major sports over another.

The Mavericks look to win their 22nd consecutive meeting with the New Orleans Hornets when the Southwest division rivals open their four-game season series on Saturday.

Dallas has not lost to New Orleans (11-6) since a 104-99 road loss on Nov. 19, 1999 in Charlotte, N.C. The Mavericks have since won 10 straight road meetings in Charlotte, New Orleans and Oklahoma City.

Last season, Dallas opened up double-digit leads in the first quarter in all four meetings. Dirk Nowitzki averaged 20.0 points on 57.1 percent shooting in those games and Josh Howard added 19.5 points while shooting 54.2 percent.

The Hornets shot just under 40 percent over the four games, and frustrations boiled over after Dallas' 105-89 win on March 27 when New Orleans coach Byron Scott claimed his team quit.

"I think they saw a mountain that couldn't be moved," he said after the loss. "They said, `We can't even push it. It's not going anywhere.' I don't care if it can be moved or not. You keep pushing. You keep trying to move it. We stopped."

The Mavericks also are looking to improve to 5-0 in division games this season.

Dallas (11-5) overcame a rough effort from Nowitzki, but won its ninth straight home meeting with Portland, 91-80 on Friday night to cap a 2-1 homestand. The reigning league MVP matched a season low with 11 points and had just one free throw - also his lowest of the season.

Howard picked up his teammate with 23 points and a season-high 14 rebounds and Jason Terry added 17 points. The Mavs built a 17-point heading into the fourth quarter by making 14 of 19 shots in the third.

"They look for me to do a lot on this team," Howard said. "Whatever I need to do to get us going, I'm going to do it."

New Orleans returns home after improving the Western Conference's best road record to 8-2 with a 92-86 win at Atlanta on Friday night. David West had 22 points and 17 rebounds while Chris Paul added 20 points for the Hornets, who scored 22 points off 20 Hawks turnovers.

"This is definitely a good win, because (Atlanta) is a good team," Paul said. "Atlanta is a team that likes to run, so playing them tonight prepares us for Dallas."

Starting center Tyson Chandler missed the second half after losing two crowns in a collision, but went to a dentist to repair the damage and is expected to play Saturday. Chandler, second in the league in rebounding last season with a career-high 12.4 per game, was limited to an average of 6.8 in last season's four games against Dallas.

West missed the first three meetings with the Mavs last season due to a right elbow injury.


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