Trail Blazers Vs. Mavericks Preview
January 18th, 2014
By KEVIN CHROUST
Coming off one of their biggest road wins of the season, the Portland Trail Blazers now shift their focus to winning in a building that has yielded them a .158 winning percentage over the last decade.
The Northwest Division-leading Blazers head to Dallas on Saturday night trying to win at American Airlines Center for only the fourth time in 20 tries dating to the start of the 2003-04 season.
Their 3-16 road mark against the Mavericks in that time is worse than any opponent other than Denver (2-18) and Phoenix (3-17). Portland has averaged 89.4 points in those 19 visits - their worst road scoring average against a Western Conference team in that time.
Terry Stotts' squad will surely prefer to focus on the present, though, after they won 109-100 at San Antonio on Friday to extend their win streak to four and get within a half-game of the conference-leading Spurs.
"To beat the best team in the West on their floor - that sticks out," Stotts said. "We showed a lot of resolve at both ends of the floor."
The Blazers (30-9) are now three victories shy of matching their 33 wins from last season, Stotts' first in Portland.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and 13 rebounds, while Wesley Matthews scored 24 on 6-of-7 shooting from 3-point range Friday. Aldridge is averaging 28.8 points and 13.3 rebounds during the streak and said the win didn't feel like a regular-season game.
"This was like a playoff road game," he said. "They got some calls down the stretch and we played tough down the stretch. This is good experience for us going forward."
Portland, leading the NBA with 109.1 points per game, has been as consistent as it gets offensively during the surge, scoring no fewer than 108 points and no more than 112.
The Blazers matched their best free-throw shooting night of the season against the Spurs, going 19 for 20 to boost their league-best mark to 82.3 percent.
The stop in Dallas is their second on a four-game trip that could be their toughest of the season. Portland also plays at Houston on Monday and Oklahoma City on Tuesday.
Dallas (24-17) has enjoyed a successful stretch of its own lately, winning four of five after Friday's 110-107 victory at Phoenix. The Mavericks have shot 51.0 percent overall, 45.0 percent from 3-point range and averaged 112.2 points in that time.
Monta Ellis led the way with 24 points, Dirk Nowitzki added 21 and rookie reserve Shane Larkin had a career-high 18 in increased playing time after starting point guard Jose Calderon went to the bench with a knee contusion."That's why we drafted him," coach Rick Carlisle said. "We felt like he could have this kind of impact."
The team's other point guard, Devin Harris, could make his season debut against the Blazers after missing 39 games while recovering from foot surgery.
Dallas is after its fourth straight win overall against the Blazers and a 2-0 advantage in the season series after a 108-106 win in Portland on Dec. 7. Damian Lillard scored 32 for the Blazers, while Nowitzki had 30 for the Mavs.