42-20
98 -
Team 1 2 3 4
POR 10 28 36 24
DAL 33 24 18 28
103
37-26

Trail Blazers-Mavericks Preview

The Associated Press

Being at home and playing inferior competition have helped push the Portland Trail Blazers back in the right direction.

Now the question is whether they can keep it going without those advantages.

The Trail Blazers haven't done well lately in road games or against teams with winning records, and they'll be facing plenty of both during a stretch that begins Friday night against the Dallas Mavericks.

This matchup kicks off the first of two five-game road trips this month for Portland (42-19), which has played seven of eight at home since the All-Star break. The first four opponents on this trek are all above .500 - Dallas (36-26), Houston, Memphis and San Antonio - before it ends next Friday in New Orleans.

"It's going to be a really tough road trip for us," forward LaMarcus Aldridge said after Wednesday's 102-78 win over Atlanta. "But if we go out and take care of business and keep playing defense like we did tonight, anything is possible."

The Blazers allowed season lows for points and field-goal percentage (33.0) as defense continued to key their resurgence following a 3-7 slump. They've won six of seven, giving up averages 39.7 percent shooting and 89.3 points - 13.3 below their season mark.

However, none of those opponents entered with a winning record, and Portland has lost eight of nine against teams that do. That funk along with the Blazers' woes on the road, where they've dropped six of nine, date back to a 127-111 win in Dallas on Jan. 18.

Aldridge had 30 points and 12 rebounds that night, but he hasn't been the same after missing the first five games following the break due to a groin injury. The All-Star has averaged 15.7 points and 6.7 boards in three games since returning and was a season-worst 1 for 13 from the field Wednesday.

"My timing is just off," Aldridge said. "Since coming back, I haven't felt like my timing has been great."

The Mavericks also have fallen into a slump, dropping a season-high three straight after winning 10 of 12. They've given up more than 110 points on the road in their last two games, including a 115-110 defeat in Denver on Wednesday.

Now they face four of the league's top seven teams record-wise in their next five games. Following Sunday's visit from Indiana, Dallas has a three-game trip that begins against Golden State and ends against Oklahoma City.

"It's not going to get easier," forward Brandan Wright said. "We just have to come out and play hard. In these home games we have two tough opponents. We just have to keep trucking and we'll see what happens. We have to lift the level up."

The Mavs are 0-6 against the West's top five teams since beating Houston on Dec. 23. They've won eight of 12 at home, but none of those victories came against a team with a winning record.

The Blazers are 6-9 on the road since Dec. 18 - the worst of any team with a record over .500 - while allowing an average of 108.5 points.

Nicolas Batum has helped pick up the slack for Aldridge's struggles by grabbing at least 15 rebounds in three consecutive games. Dallas hasn't had a player grab more than 10 in five straight and has been outrebounded in each.

Dirk Nowitzki had 27 points Wednesday, his most since the start of February, and scored 30 in a 108-106 win at Portland on Dec. 7. He was held to 18 points on 6-of-17 shooting in the home loss to the Blazers.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • A Wizards rookie has legally changed his name, so update your records

      A Wizards rookie has legally changed his name, so update your records

      Sheldon Mac, then McClellan, catches a pass. Washington Wizards rookie guard Sheldon McClellan, undrafted out of the University of Miami this season, takes his last name from a father with whom he has no relationship. Yes, the player formally … More »

      Ball Don't Lie - 3 minutes 58 seconds ago
    • Yao Ming is the new president of the Chinese Basketball Association

      Yao Ming is the new president of the Chinese Basketball Association

      Yao Ming speaks at his Hall of Fame induction in September. As reported on Thursday, the Chinese Basketball Association has made newly enshrined Basketball Hall of Famer and Houston Rockets great Yao Ming as its new president. The Chinese … More »

      Ball Don't Lie - 1 hour 3 minutes ago
    • Yao elected Chinese Basketball president

      Yao Ming has moved into management in a bid to hasten China's basketball development. The Chinese Basketball Association voted unanimously to appoint former Houston Rockets star as its president on Thursday, in a step toward reform for an … More »

      AP - Sports - 1 hour 32 minutes ago
    • 76ers, Hawks swap Ilyasova, Splitter

      76ers, Hawks swap Ilyasova, Splitter

      The Atlanta Hawks added scoring help for their playoff push by acquiring forward Ersan Ilyasova from the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night. The 76ers got injured center Tiago Splitter and a protected second-round draft pick from Atlanta, and … More »

      AP - Sports - 2 hours 12 minutes ago
    • Richard Jefferson nods to Kyrie Irving with 'Flat World Champions' shirt

      Richard Jefferson nods to Kyrie Irving with 'Flat World Champions' shirt

      Richard Jefferson watches Kyrie Irving soar high above a flat surface. The biggest story of the NBA’s All-Star Weekend was he believes Earth is flat (in addition to a bunch of other conspiracy theories), setting off consternation and bewildered … More »

      Ball Don't Lie - 2 hours 34 minutes ago