Though they've engaged in their share of scoring duels over the past 17 years, Dirk Nowitzki's Dallas Mavericks have had the upper hand on Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers in recent seasons.
The future Hall of Famers will face each other one last time as the visiting Mavericks try to avoid matching their longest skid of the season and extend a nine-game winning streak in this series Tuesday night.
Nowitzki and the retiring Bryant are the NBA's top two active scoring leaders, with Bryant ranking third on the all-time list with 33,084 points and Nowitzki sixth at 28,863.
Bryant helped the Lakers win 34 of 49 meetings when both played from the time Nowitzki entered the league in 1998-99 through 2012-13. Bryant had 62- and 52-point performances in that span.
Nowitzki averaged 25.3 - two points better than Bryant - in Dallas' sweep during their only postseason meeting in the 2011 Western Conference semifinals.
Nowitzki has posted seven 30-point games against Los Angeles, though his 20.9 average versus the Lakers is among his lowest marks against any team. However, the Mavericks' nine-game run is their longest in the history of the series, a streak aided by Bryant playing in only three of those contests due to injury.
Nowitzki had 25 points and nine rebounds while Bryant was held to 15 and went 3 of 15 from the field in Dallas' 103-93 win Nov. 1, the most recent meeting at Staples Center. Nowitzki was then limited to nine points on 4-of-13 shooting in the Mavericks' 90-82 victory Nov. 13, with Bryant scoring 19 in his last game at Dallas.
"It was just two old guys having fun," Bryant said after that contest. "I was trying to catch him before he got too high because he's too damn tall."
They'll go at it one last time as the Mavericks (25-21) try to avoid losing three in a row for the first time since Nov. 22-25.
"It's always great to see (Bryant)," Nowitzki said. "He's a legend."
Chandler Parsons had a season-high 31 points but Dallas struggled defensively in Sunday's 115-104 loss at Houston. It's been a disturbing trend of late, with the Mavericks giving up 108.6 per game in their last five.
Parsons has averaged 29.0 points while making 12 of 18 from 3-point range in his last three. He's scored only 11 points over the two games against the Lakers this season, though.
Zaza Pachulia has missed three of the past eight games due to injury, but the center, who's totaled 34 points and 28 rebounds in the season series, is expected to return after sitting out Sunday.
Dallas hasn't had much trouble slowing down the Lakers (9-37), limiting them to 34.7 percent shooting in the two meetings. Jordan Clarkson, though, has a 26-point effort and a 21-point game among his last three against Dallas.
D'Angelo Russell scored 21 points in Saturday's 121-103 loss at Portland and has totaled 39 in his past two games. Russell and Julius Randle, however, were reportedly criticized by Bryant in the locker room for poor effort in Los Angeles' sixth straight defeat.
The Lakers have given up 113.0 points per game during their slide.