(Sports Network) - Western Conference contenders meet in Rip City Tuesday when the Dallas Mavericks kick off a brief two-game road trip against the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Mavs, who will also visit Golden State on their quick trek, have faltered a bit recently, losing for the second time in three games on Saturday when Kobe Bryant scored 16 points despite rolling his ankle during the third quarter, and the Los Angeles Lakers got back in the win column with a 96-91 victory in Dallas.
Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion scored 25 points apiece to lead the Mavericks, who are just 2-3 since their eight-game winning streak and are now just percentage points ahead of the Lakers for the second spot in the West.
"I was proud of the team on a night that a lot of the shots that we normally make weren't going down, we kept our energy, kept battling and kept fighting," said Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle. "We just didn't quite have enough tonight."
The Blazers, who are opening up a three-game homestand tonight, return to the Pacific Northwest after finishing 2-2 on a four-game road trip. Most recently Portland fell in Atlanta when Jeff Teague matched a career high with 24 points and Jamal Crawford scored all 20 of his points in the second half as the Hawks handled Portland, 91-82.
LaMarcus Aldridge, a Dallas native, finished with 22 points, seven assists and six rebounds while Wesley Matthews added 19 points as the Blazers dropped both games of a back-to-back after beginning their trip with wins in Orlando and Miami.
"We were missing shots like crazy," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "You shoot 35 percent, pretty much shoot under 40 percent the entire game, you expect to lose. I thought [our team] made the effort but we gotta make shots and take care of the ball."
Portland is currently seventh in the West, making this a possible first round playoff preview.
Dallas has won three straight overall versus the Blazers, including two matchups this season.