Blazers And Mavericks Rematch In Dallas

by Casey Holdahl
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The Portland Trail Blazers (26-22) didn’t play their first game versus the Dallas Mavericks (16-32) until they were nearly three months into the 2017-18 season. They won’t have to wait nearly as long for the second meeting.

After the Trail Blazers hosted at the Moda Center in the first meeting between the two teams less than a week ago, the Mavericks return the favor Friday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

Portland took the first meeting versus Dallas 117-108 on January 20 thanks in part to all five of the Trail Blazers’ starters finishing the game in double figures. Damian Lillard, who didn’t miss a shot until late in the third quarter of the win, led all scorers with 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field and 7-of-9 shooting from three to go with nine assists and five rebounds in 38 minutes.

“I felt pretty good,” said Lillard, the Western Conference Player of the Week who was also named to the 2018 All-Star team. “My first shot that I made was a tough one but even when it left my hand, it felt good. I just had a good rhythm. Coming off an injury, each game I’m feeling better and better. I’m getting my speed back and my burst back. I missed some time so when I get that back and I’m also fresh, I’m able to do what I’ve got to do.”

CJ McCollum was no slouch himself, scoring 26 points on 11-of-23 shooting in the win. The Trail Blazers as a whole had one of their best shooting nights in recent memory in the win, with the team shooting 52 percent from the field while tying their season high for made three-pointers with 18, and on 50 percent shooting.

Dirk Nowitzki, Dennis Smith Jr. and Wesley Matthews each scored at least 20 points in the losing effort.

More recently, the Trail Blazers enter Friday's game having won four of their last five after beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 123-114 Wednesday night at the Moda Center in a game that wasn't as close as the final score would indicate.

"Weeks ago I said we’re starting to play the kind of basketball we need to play," said Lillard after the win, which was their 15th straight game of scoring at least 100 points. "We’re trusting each other, we’re making the game easier for each other. It’s flowing really well right now."

As for the Mavericks, they've lost four of their last five, the most recent being a 104-97 loss to the Houston Rockets Wednesday night.

Friday night's game can be seen locally on NBC Sports Northwest with Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd and Brooke Olzendam. Brian Wheeler will have the call on NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio 620 AM.