DALLAS (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks are in a such funk right now that they're actually looking forward to their first road trip in five weeks.
At least, that was their mood Tuesday night following a 93-87 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers that started so badly that Mavs coach Avery Johnson said he was too frustrated to talk to his players at halftime.
Coming off three straight unimpressive games, two of them losses to top conference rivals, the Mavs trailed the lowly Blazers by 13 points before even making a basket. They didn't draw even until the third quarter and didn't go ahead until midway through the fourth. Even after going up by five, they still had to hold on for the win.
"I don't know what I am going to have to do to get this team charged up, but I am willing to do anything. ... I'll run around a track, bench press, whatever you want me to do," Johnson said during an impassioned rant that left him pounding a lectern so hard that he ended up joking about possibly breaking it. "I am open for any ideas. "
Johnson's gripes seem harsh considering Dallas won for the 21st time in 24 games. That includes going 13-1 at home during their last 17 overall games, a scheduling fluke that ends with a three-game road trip starting Thursday night in Portland.
"We need to free our minds, get in hotels and build that comraderie," swingman Jerry Stackhouse said. "It's still there, but I think that it goes up on the road. I'm looking forward to a nice dinner with the guys tomorrow night."
"We'll have to get used to hotels and hostile crowds again," added Dirk Nowitzki. "It should be good."
Jason Terry led Dallas with 26 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter. He hit a 3-pointer, a jumper and a pair of free throws on consecutive possessions to put the Mavericks ahead 75-71.
But the Blazers showed a lot of spunk for a team in a 1-8 rut and coming off lopsided defeats in San Antonio and Houston since Saturday. They tied it at 79 and 81, then after going down by seven they ralled to within 90-87 with 18.6 seconds left.
"We gave ourselves a chance to win, but we just didn't execute," said Zach Randolph, who led Portland with 33 points and eight rebounds. "We just couldn't finish."
Nowitzki scored 25 and had 10 rebounds. He also threw out of a double team to a wide-open Stackhouse for a 3-pointer with 41 seconds left that gave Dallas the cushion it ultimately needed.
Stackhouse scored 21 points, and the way he did it was probably the one satisfaction the Mavericks took from the game. He was 5-of-12 overall and 2-of-3 on 3-pointers; he was 1-of-19 behind the arc the previous nine games and was shooting around 29 percent his last four games.
"I've looked at the tapes and those were my shots," he said. "You're going to go through dry spells. I just hope it's behind me."
Although Dallas beat Portland for the ninth straight time, the Blazers have been close in all three meetings this season. They trailed by five going into the fourth quarter in early January, then went to overtime later that month.
"It comes down to making plays," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "They've been able to make plays down the stretch and we haven't."
"We missed 11 in a six-point game," McMillan said. "That was big."
Forward Viktor Khryapa epitomized Portland's intensity.
He came flying in behind a two-on-one fast break and cleanly blocked a layup by Terry during Dallas' cold-shooting start, then early in the third quarter he swatted another shot after Dallas followed a basket with a steal in the back court. He also drew a charge after the Mavericks got within 48-45.
Harris left a fan with a bloody nose when he dove into the front row to save a loose ball during the third quarter. He didn't, and the woman had to be taken away for medical treatment. About a minute later, Nowitzki toppled into the photographer's area under
the basket Dallas was defending. The Mavs called a timeout, and once Nowitzki was OK he went over and shook hands with the photographer he landed on, making sure he was fine, too. ... Portland C Theo Ratliff got all net on a first-quarter free throw. The notable part is that the ball didn't go through the hoop first. ... Dallas sent C Pavel Podkolzin to the Developmental League. After playing 10 minutes all of last season, his rookie year, he's missed all of this season because of a stress fracture in his right foot.