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  •  Dallas center Chris Kaman suffered a concussion after taking a blow to the head during practice Monday and will not be available. Coach Rick Carlisle wouldn’t confirm who will start, though rookie Bernard James got his first start in Sunday’s 110-95 win at Phoenix. Veterans Brandan Wright and Elton Brand will get time at the post spot, too. Losing Kaman “is a hit for us,” Carlisle said. “He has played very well this year and played well against (the Blazers, with 16 points on 8-for-10 shooting in a 114-91 win on Nov. 5) last time. We’ll miss him.”
  • Portland returns reserve center Jared Jeffries (hip), who missed Sunday’s 96-83 loss to the L.A. Clippers at Staples Center. Coach Terry Stotts said he expects Jeffries to be in the rotation.
  • Stotts was an assistant under Carlisle the previous four seasons in Dallas. “Terry’s done a great job here,” Carlisle said. “I don’t know exactly what expectations were, but I know (the Blazers) have exceeded them, and he has had a lot of do with that.”
  • The Mavericks (19-25) have won six of their last eight games to climb back into the Western Conference playoff race but are on the first leg of a four-game road trip that includes stops at Golden State, Phoenix and Oklahoma City. “We’ve done some better things,” Carlisle said. “But this is a very challenging part of our schedule, so we have to take those things we’ve done well and continue that and amp things up. We’re going into some hostile places.”
  • Dirk Nowitzki, working his way into shape after missing the first 27 games following knee surgery, has had only two games of 20 points or more.
    “He isn’t (100 percent) yet, but I think he’ll get back to that level,” said Stotts, who coached Nowitzki with the Mavericks the last four years. “What people sometimes overlook is the impact he has on the game beyond his scoring. He makes players better with his presence on the court. He gets so much (defensive) attention, it opens up opportunities for (teammates).”
  • After notching his second triple-double in three games in Saturday’s win over the Clippers, Nicolas Batum took only five shots and scored eight points in Sunday’s loss to the same foe. “That’s on both of us,” Stotts said. “He needs to be more aggressive. I need to be more tuned into that during the game. “But he’s a priority for the defense, and the Clippers made him a priority. He didn’t have the same looks. Part of his growth as a player is adjusting to that.”

Kerry Eggers

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