Blazers At Mavs: 'A Time Of Urgency'

Portland has lost eight of nine against teams with winning records. Dallas is oh-for in its last six games against the West's top five teams. So something's gotta give tonight at the AAC ... and the Mavs hope it doesn't give in a way that results in a four-game losing streak.

The Dallas Mavericks are 36-26 and bobbing around the bottom of the NBA West playoff race and keep spending the year turning corners ... only to be turned back again.

Tonight, another corner looms. They play the 42-19 Trail Blazers while hoping to avoid a fourth straight loss.

"This is one of those times where we've got to have character and we've got to rally and we've got to do better," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "There's no other way of really putting it.''

The Mavs are trying to put past them a low-effort 115-110 loss on Wednesday in Denver ("Embarrassing,'' Dirk Nowitzki calls it). And they are also hoping to avoid a repeat of what happened on Jan. 18, when the Blazers came into Dallas and buried the Mavericks, 127-111.

"That game was very similar to (Wednesday's) game," Carlisle said. "We were very poor in the first quarter against Portland here, and we were very poor in the first quarter against Denver."
The Mavs have also been very poor against quality opponents. They are 0-6 against the West's top five teams since beating Houston on Dec. 23. And the Portland game is just the beginning of a winning-opponent gauntlet: In Dallas' next five games, it faces four of the NBA's top seven teams record-wise in their next five games, including a Sunday visit from Indy before heading back out on the road.

Coverage begins on Fox Sports Southwest tonight at 7. will have full coverage, too, including the Mavs-Blazers discussion on Boards.

"It's not going to get easier," Dallas' 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 centerpiece of Dallas' failures? The Mavs have not held an opponent under 46-percent shooting since returning to play following the All-Star Break.

The Blazers, featuring DFW native LaMarcus Aldridge, have won six of seven to solidify their position as a top-tier playoff contender. But they've won just six of their last 15 road games -- a glimmer of hope for the Mavs.

"With 20 games left now — 20 games in 41 days — it's going to go by fast,'' Carlisle said. "So each possession, each quarter and each period between timeouts is an opportunity to rise up and that's what we've got to do. ... It's a time of great urgency.''

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