Back on track? Mavs win second straight after slow start

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The Mavericks think they are on their way to righting a poor start.

Dallas opened with four straight losses but has won its last two, including a 103-96 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night.

Dirk Nowitzki had 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Jason Terry had 24 points to lead the Mavericks, who are now headed home after a three-game road trip.

"There's always ups and downs. We just need to be a little more consistent," Nowitzki said. "I think that comes when you play longer together. As long as the year is, hopefully we'll get more consistent."

Dallas has won its last 11 games against the Trail Blazers, dating to Dec. 23, 2003.

Portland briefly went ahead 46-44 on Martell Webster's 3-pointer to start the second half, but the Mavericks then took control and led 73-61 on Nowitzki's layup. Anthony Johnson's dunk to end the third quarter made it 77-64.

The Mavericks took their biggest lead of the game, 83-68, on Greg Buckner's jumper.

The Blazers closed to 86-83 on Zach Randolph's turnaround jumper. Rookie LaMarcus Aldridge, playing in his first game of the season, made a layup with 2:21 left to narrow it to 86-85.

But Terry's 3-pointer and a technical foul called on coach Nate McMillan for arguing put the Mavericks up 95-87 and all but sealed it.

"We're still not out of the hole yet," Terry said. "We have to keep working. We have a long way to go but we like the direction we're headed."

The Mavericks opened with four straight losses for the first time in franchise history, but snapped the skid on Thursday with a 119-112 win over the Phoenix Suns.

Zach Randolph had 20 points and nine rebounds for Portland (4-3), which came back from a 27-point deficit to beat New Orleans 92-91 at the Rose Garden on Friday.

"We had to play in a rush throughout the game," McMillan said. "I never thought we had control in this game."

Aldridge, the second pick in the 2006 draft, made his debut for the Blazers after a shoulder injury kept him out of the preseason and the season's start.

He entered the game with 1:23 left in the first quarter to hearty applause. He finished with 10 points, all in the fourth quarter.

"It was nice to see some bounce out there, some activity," McMillan said. "He did some really good things."

Aldridge said he thought he might struggle, so it was a surprise he stayed in the entire fourth quarter.

"The first time I went out I had butterflies," he said. "The second time I was like, `OK, I'm good."

Fellow rookie Brandon Roy did not play because of a heel injury that limited him to seven minutes against New Orleans. Doctors hope a special boot will help Roy avoid surgery, but he will miss up to two weeks.

The Blazers were also without Joel Przybilla, Raef LaFrentz and Darius Miles. Miles was scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery on his knee on Monday.

Nowitzki's 3-pointer gave the Mavericks a 27-13 lead in the first half. But the Blazers rallied and narrowed it to 36-35 on Webster's reserve layup.

The Mavericks did not surrender the lead and were up 44-41 at the half.

Nowitzki said he was impressed by Aldridge.

"I like him, he's very active, he's very long and skilled," Nowitzki said. "He can put the ball on the floor and he's athletic. I think he's definitely a great talent."

Game notes
McMillan returned to the team after missing Friday's game because of a death in his family. He was replaced for the game by assistant Dean Demopoulos. ... The Mavericks head home to face Chicago on Tuesday. ... The Blazers embark on a four-game road trip starting Tuesday at Minnesota.