PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -If the Trail Blazers land the Mavericks as first-round opponents in the playoffs, the season series thus far has certainly been a good omen.
Portland has gone 3-0 against Dallas, the latest a 101-89 victory on Thursday night at the Rose Garden.
The teams meet once more, on April 9 again in Portland. But the Blazers have already claimed their first season series over Dallas since the 1998-99 season.
The Mavericks' loss put them in a tangle for second in the Western Conference standings with the Denver Nuggets and the Utah Jazz - all 6 1/2 games back of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Blazers are 10 1/2 games back, jockeying for the seventh spot with San Antonio.
``This is a good test,' said Blazers guard Andre Miller, who had 19 points and 10 assists.
LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 points and 10 rebounds and Marcus Camby had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Portland, which has won six of its last seven games overall and five straight at home.
``We take tonight's game and show that we can play with those guys that are ahead of us,' Blazers coach Nate McMillan said.
Caron Butler had 25 points for Dallas, which has lost four of its last five games after a 13-game winning streak.
Shawn Marion's short jumper pulled the Mavs within 82-80 early in the fourth, but Portland wouldn't let them get any closer.
The Blazers stretched their lead to 93-82 after Rudy Fernandez's 3-pointer and Miller's pull-up jumper, then held a comfortable margin the rest of the way.
The Mavericks lost the first two games against the Blazers in the season series - both in Dallas. Miller scored a career-high 52 points against the Mavs in a 114-112 overtime victory on Jan. 30.
``They've beat us three times so for us it's about getting better,' Jason Kidd said.
``We understand that this is how teams will play us, so it's good that it happened now and not in 'the next season,'' he said, referring to the playoffs.
The Blazers, coming off a 93-87 loss at Phoenix that snapped a five-game winning streak, led by nine in the first quarter.
Reserve guard Jerryd Bayless scored on a fast break to put Portland ahead 32-27 at the end of the first, then added a driving layup to open the second.
Jose Barea's bank shot narrowed it to 38-37, but Dallas could not pull ahead.
Brandon Roy's 17-foot jumper gave the Blazers a 55-46 lead late in the first half. There was some tension before the break, when Butler drew a technical for taunting.
The Blazers led 60-54 at halftime, but Dallas pulled to 60-58 early in the third quarter on Dirk Nowitzki's turnaround jumper before tying it with Butler's dunk.
Portland went back up with consecutive baskets from Camby that touched off a 13-0 run.
``It was important. It's just important to win right now, but it feels good that you can beat a team that's second or third in the Western Conference,' said Roy, who had 16 points. ``This was a huge win for us.'
NOTES: Fernandez missed the game against the Suns with a left quadriceps strain. ... As rumors continued to swirl surrounding the future of Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard, team owner Paul Allen issued a statement that affirmed his support of him. The statement did, however, say that when the season ends ``we will evaluate how best to move the Trail Blazers forward.' One fan held a sign of support that read ``Don't Ditch Pritch.' Pritchard is highly regarded in Portland as having rescued the team from its ``Jail Blazers' reputation.
The Associated Press News Service
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