Spurs set to entertain Mavs in Texas tussle

The Dallas Mavericks' current stretch of games is not very forgiving and they will open a brief two-game road trip against Texas foes, beginning with tonight's tilt with the San Antonio Spurs in the Alamo City.

The Mavs, who will play four of their next five games away from Big D, are in the midst of 10 straight contests against playoff-hopeful opponents and had a four-game winning streak stopped with Wednesday's 109-93 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in a battle between the last two NBA champions.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 26 points to pace Dallas and Jason Terry added 23. Vince Carter and Ian Mahinmi scored nine and eight points, respectively, for the Mavericks, who shot 42.7 percent and had a five-game home-winning streak come to an end.

"We had breakdowns defensively. We had shot-making droughts and they were able to retake the lead and get a cushion," Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said. "It was probably the difference in the game, but there were other breakdowns too, and we simply just did not play well enough."

Dallas had scored 100-plus points in the previous four games and is seeded fourth in the Western Conference -- just a half-game ahead of the Grizzlies, Clippers and Nuggets. It is 9-13 as the visitor this season and ended a seven- game slide as the guest with a 112-95 win at Denver on Monday.

Mavs forward Shawn Marion missed his third straight game with a sore left knee and is probable for Saturday's game. Marion is averaging 11.2 points and 6.8 rebounds this season. The Mavs are 2-1 in a stretch of 10 games against the Spurs, Nuggets and Lakers, and will play the Spurs again tonight, the Rockets twice, Miami. Orlando, the Clippers and Memphis.

Meanwhile, San Antonio may not have floor general Tony Parker for tonight's game because he is doubtful with a hamstring strain. Parker, who boasts averages of 19.6 points and 8.0 assists, suffered the injury during Wednesday's 116-100 win versus Minnesota.

Tim Duncan picked up the slack and scored a game-high 21 points with 15 rebounds, while Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Jackson and Gary Neal added 16 points apiece for the Southwest Division-leading Spurs, who have won six of nine games and improved to 18-4 as the host this season. San Antonio is seeded second in the West behind the conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder.

"He definitely looks like the old Tim and to get where we want to be, we are going to need him to play like that," Jackson said of Duncan.

The Timberwolves have not earned a win in San Antonio since January 14, 2004. Neal is San Antonio's primary backup at the point when Parker rests or is dealing with injury. Spurs forward and three-point specialist Matt Bonner sat out the game with back spasms and is questionable for Friday.

San Antonio just dropped a 106-99 decision on Saturday at Dallas and have lost two of three meetings with its division rival in 2011-12. These two teams have split the last 12 meetings at San Antonio.