Dallas (37-16) at Houston (25-29)

By BRETT HUSTON, STATS Senior Writer Friday, Feb 11, 2011 Tipoff: 8:30 pm EST Sat Feb 12, 2011

The Dallas Mavericks blew a 20-point lead in less than 12 minutes when their 12-game winning streak came to a halt two months ago, but the end to their latest lengthy run may have been even more painful.

Dallas held a nine-point cushion with under three minutes to play yet still watched its 10-game streak slip away, a loss it’ll try to bounce back from Saturday night when it visits the Houston Rockets.

There have been seven double-digit winning streaks in the league this season, and the Mavericks (37-16) own two of them.

As impressive as those runs as they happened, their endings were also staggering. Rick Carlisle’s team blew a 42-22 second-quarter lead against Milwaukee over an 11-minute stretch Dec. 13, halting its 12-game streak with a 103-99 loss, then saw a sizable cushion disappear even faster Thursday night.

The Mavericks were in excellent shape to stretch their streak to 11 in Denver, leading 119-110 with 2:51 to play. But Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo(notes) got hot, scoring seven of his team’s final 11 points and hitting a buzzer-beater to hand Dallas a 121-120 defeat.

“If we want to be a championship team, then we’ve got to close games at the end. This is one game, one game lost at the buzzer, but I’m talking future,” Tyson Chandler(notes) told the Mavericks’ official website after scoring 20 points in the loss. “We’ve got bigger goals and aspirations. So, this is one thing we’ve got to grow from.”

Dallas should have a good opportunity to do just that. Six of the Mavericks’ next eight opponents have losing records, starting with their first visit to Houston (24-28) since a 97-94 loss Dec. 31, 2009.

“We had a good stretch there, 10 in a row,” said guard Jason Terry(notes), who on Saturday will be looking to record a fifth straight 20-point game for the first time since March 7-15, 2009. “It’s time to get 10 more.”

Terry has averaged 26.0 points in three games at the Toyota Center since 2008-09, his highest average in any venue, but he totaled just 21 points on 6 of 19 shooting in two home meetings with the Rockets earlier this season.

Those struggles haven’t hurt Dallas. Dirk Nowitzki(notes) led the way with 20 points in a 101-91 win Nov. 29, then Chandler paced seven players in double figures with 21 points and 15 boards in a 111-106 victory Jan. 27.

Chandler has averaged 15.6 points and 10.5 rebounds in the Mavericks’ last 11 games.

The Rockets lost three in a row in a brutal stretch against Dallas, San Antonio and the Lakers from Jan. 27-Feb. 1, then responded with impressive wins over Utah, Memphis and Denver.

But in a season filled with inconsistency, Houston’s failure to take care of business against Minnesota shouldn’t have been a total surprise. After beating the Nuggets on the road Monday, the Rockets returned home and lost 112-108 to the Timberwolves, who entered the game 3-23 away from home.

“We just didn’t play our game and play up to the potential of how we played (Monday),” guard Kyle Lowry(notes) said. “It (stinks), but we can’t let it get us down.”

To recover, Houston can start by holding its own on the boards. Minnesota outrebounded the Rockets 51-31 as Luis Scola(notes) pulled down a season-low two in 37 minutes.

The Mavericks are 22-5 when they grab more boards than their opponent.

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Saturday, Feb 12