Fighting to extend their 12-year postseason streak, the Dallas Mavericks could take a big step toward that goal with a rare second road win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Trying to further their momentum from a huge come-from-behind victory, the Mavericks open a crucial four-game road trip Tuesday night when they visit the injury-ravaged Lakers.
Dirk Nowitzki supplied the latest heroics for the Mavericks on Saturday when he sank the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left in a 100-98 come-from-behind victory over visiting Chicago, capping a 15-1 run over the final 3:33.
"This game was kind of like the story of our season,'' said Nowitzki, who finished with a season-high 35 points. "Every time someone writes us off, we find a way to come back.''
The Mavericks (36-37) appear to be peaking at the right time, winning 10 of 14 to get back into the playoff picture. Now they have a chance to get their record to .500 and pull closer to both Utah and the Lakers (38-36) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
Dallas beat the Lakers 99-91 at the Staples Center in the season opener, but the only time in franchise history it recorded two wins in Los Angeles came in the 1983-84 season.
But the Mavericks, who have lost 55 of 67 all-time regular-season meetings in Los Angeles, could be catching the Lakers at the right time.
Los Angeles has dropped four of six and can't afford to fall very far behind the Jazz with just eight games remaining. The Lakers, however, play six of their final eight at the Staples Center - where they've won 11 of 13.
Kobe Bryant continues to be bothered by a nagging left foot injury, but still finished with 19 points, tied a season high with 14 assists and added nine rebounds in a 103-98 win at Sacramento on Saturday.
"My foot's (messed) up, but other than that, I feel great,'' said Bryant, who has shot 11 for 35 in his last two games.
Steve Nash exited the contest early in the first quarter with a recurring right hamstring injury and will be a game-time decision against the Mavericks. Metta World Peace, meanwhile, will miss the rest of the regular season after undergoing knee surgery.
Los Angeles will try to play through the injuries and take three of four from the Mavericks in the season series after winning twice in Dallas. Bryant had 38 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in a 103-99 victory on Feb. 24.
Dwight Howard is playing well heading into this meeting, averaging 21.3 points on 71.4 percent shooting and 15.3 rebounds in his last three games. Pau Gasol has scored 10.4 points per game since returning from a right foot injury, but he's averaged 21.4 points and 10.0 rebounds in his last five against the Mavericks.
Nowitzki has averaged 29.7 points on 62.1 percent shooting (36 for 58) in his last three games. He missed the first two meetings this season while recovering from preseason knee surgery, but had team highs of 30 points and 13 rebounds in the February home loss.
O.J. Mayo has missed 19 of 23 shots over his last two as he plays through a sprained left shoulder.
The Mavericks have averaged just 91.3 points on 41.4 percent shooting in losing eight of their last nine regular-season meetings to the Lakers.