Mavs try to avoid 3-game slide vs. Kings

( - The Dallas Mavericks look to avoid losing three in a row for the first time this season when they invade Sacramento Tuesday to take on the Kings at Sleep Train Arena.

The Mavericks have fallen in back-to-back games and opened a three-game western junket with Saturday's 120-100 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Dirk Nowitzki ended with 25 points and six rebounds, Monta Ellis scored 23 points and Tyson Chandler compiled five points, 10 rebounds and two blocks for the Mavericks, who had won six straight and nine of 11 games before the slide.

Los Angeles scored 30 or more points in three of the four quarters and made 52.3 percent of its shots. The Clippers also used a 21-2 run bridging the second and third quarters to build a 70-50 lead. They led by as many as 26 points and Dallas' largest lead was two.

The poor performance got under the collar of Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle and he was ejected after getting two technical fouls in the third quarter.

"Today we had another bad day," said Carlisle

Dallas is 10-8 against the Western Conference (2-6 on road) and will close the trip Wednesday against the Denver Nuggets. The Mavs are second in scoring at 108.8 ppg and field goal percentage (47.5). They are allowing 102.5 ppg and will face a Kings' offense averaging 102.2 points.

The Kings are 2-1 on a six-game homestand and defeated the LeBron James-less Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday thanks to 26 points and 13 rebounds from DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins has 21 double-doubles this season and 17 in his last 19 games played.

Rudy Gay scored 23 points and Darren Collison added 16 and six assists for Sacramento, which scored 22 points off 14 Cleveland turnovers and shot 48.8 percent from the floor. It had a season-low five turnovers.

Sacramento is 10-11 as the host and averaging 105 ppg on the homestand.

"We got to find a way to be consistent. Can't come out one night, be good defending and then come out the next night and look like a different team," Cousins said.

Gay is averaging 21.1 points over his last eight games for a Sacramento squad which will also host the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers.

Dallas topped Sacramento, 106-98, on Nov. 11 in Big D and Nowitzki scored 23 points to lead the hosts. Gay countered with 26 points in that one for the Kings, who have lost four straight, nine of 10 and 27 of the last 31 meetings between the Western Conference foes.

The Mavs and Kings are scheduled to play again Feb. 5 in California.