Trail Blazers Vs. Mavericks Preview
December 7th, 2013
By NOEY KUPCHAN
After beating two of the best teams in the NBA, the red-hot Portland Trail Blazers easily got by the league's worst club their last time out.
Unfortunately for the Dallas Mavericks, they're up next.
Coming off its highest scoring display of the season, Portland goes for a ninth consecutive home win Saturday night against Dallas.
While some may have been skeptical of the Blazers' incredible start, beating Indiana and Oklahoma City early this week surely silenced any critics. Portland (17-3) kept things going Friday with a 130-98 rout of Utah, its 15th win in 16 games.
Wesley Matthews and Damian Lillard combined for 45 points on 15-of-20 shooting, including 9 of 12 from 3-point range. The Blazers went a franchise-best 17 of 23 from beyond the arc (73.9 percent), setting an NBA record for any team with at least 20 attempts.
"We were feeling it," Matthews said.
Lillard ranks second in the NBA with 57 made 3s, and Matthews is third with 56. Matthews also ranks third in 3-point percentage at 50.9.
Portland has made 78 of 171 (45.6 percent) from 3-point range during its eight-game home winning streak.
"Our three-point shooters are good," coach Terry Stotts told the league's official website. "You don't expect to shoot that well, but our threes are taken in rhythm. They're good shots for the guys taking them. When those guys are taking open threes, there's a good chance they're going in."
LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 points and 15 rebounds as the Blazers held a 50-39 edge on the glass. The Blazers are 17-0 when Aldridge, averaging a career-high 10.0 boards, pulls down at least six.
While the Mavericks appear to have a tough task ahead of them, they're seeking a third straight win after beating New Orleans 100-97 on Wednesday. Dallas was outrebounded 58-38 but found a way to close one out in the opener of a four-game road trip.
"It could have gone either way," said Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter. "Finally we were on the other end one time in execution and getting some stops. ... It's not very often you win on the road getting pounded on the glass by 20 boards. But we'll definitely take it."
Five other players scored in double figures for Dallas, including Vince Carter with 15 off the bench and Monta Ellis with 14.
"We have a lot of guys doing a lot of things to try to take the pressure off of him so he doesn't feel he has to put up big numbers every quarter," Carter said. "It can wear him down. Now fourth quarter he can do what he does best."
Ellis also matched a season high with 10 assists as the Mavericks improved to 11-1 when he dishes out at least five. He is averaging 4.4 on the road compared to 6.8 at home.
Nowitzki's career average of 20.5 points versus Portland is his second-lowest against any opponent. He was limited to 11.0 on 34.6 percent shooting in the last two meetings, both Dallas wins.
The Mavericks have taken four of five from the Blazers, including two of three in Portland.
Aldridge has averaged 24.9 points in his last 15 against Dallas. Lillard, though, was held to 14.3 per game and 28.3 percent shooting in the four matchups last season.