PORTLAND, Oregon, Dec. 4 (Ticker) --
The Dallas Mavericks have the
depth and versatility that the Portland Trail Blazers once
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had 26 points and 15 rebounds and was part of a
3-point barrage in the second quarter as the Mavericks continued
their terrific start with a 103-88 stomping of the Trail
Dallas improved to 17-1, matching the fourth-best one-loss start
in NBA history by both the 1970-71 and 1971-72 Milwaukee Bucks.
The 1969-70 New York Knicks hold the record at 23-1.
In the second quarter, the Mavs erased a one-point deficit with
a 20-4 burst that included five straight 3-pointers. The 7-foot
Nowitzki and 6-11 Raef LaFrentz
made two each and reserve guard
Nick Van Exel
had the other.
"If we're on, we're pretty hard to guard," Nowitzki said. "We
penetrate. We kick. You can't leave anyone open. We haven't
really shot the ball well lately at all, so it's really funny
how every one should be kicking at the same time."
"They have a lot of shooters who get into positions," Trail
Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "If you don't switch them
off, that allows them to get wide open. That's the pick and
roll, so they can spot up players. They swing the ball
extremely well. What we failed to do was make them make that
Dallas is the NBA's most talented team, an honor that used to
belong to Portland. The Trail Blazers have stockpiled talent
over the last three years but have not been able to develop the
proper chemistry, dropping from the ranks of contender.
"They have a lot of interchangeable guys who can shoot the
basketball," Cheeks said. "They are not just guys who come off
the bench and fill their game. These are guys who can actually
shoot the basketball and that's their basketball game."
"Their general manager did a great job in getting the pieces in
there where they can spread guys out and shoot the ball in all
five positions," Blazers guard Bonzi Wells
said. "And they're
doing a great job as a coaching staff in getting guy in spots to
hit shots in."
In the second half, Steve Nash
scored 18 of his 20 points as
Dallas toyed with Portland, leading by at least seven points and
by as many as 22.
"We're an offensive team, so we cause teams a lot of problems,
even the best offensive teams," Nash said. "When we're rolling,
we're tough to stop."
Van Exel had 17 points and seven assists and Michael Finley
added 15 and 10 rebounds for the Mavs, who have won three
straight games. Dallas made 13-of-28 3-pointers and shot 46
percent (41-of-90) overall.
"We haven't been as good there this year so far," Dallas coach
Don Nelson said. "I don't know what the reason is other than
it's kind of fate, maybe we haven't had to shoot them or needed
them, but we still feel confident that we can shoot the three
when it is there."
"If you shoot threes the way they shot tonight, ain't nobody
going to beat them," Blazers forward Scottie Pippen
had a season-high 34 points and 12 rebounds and
added 15 and 12 for Portland, which shot under 40
percent (36-of-91) and lost for the third time in four games.
Wallace's dunk gave the Blazers a 32-31 lead with 8:53 left in
the second quarter. A jumper by Van Exel gave the Mavs the lead
for good at 36-34 and the onslaught began. Over the next
three-plus minutes, Dallas drilled five 3-pointers to open a
51-36 lead with 3:09 remaining.
"They shot the life out of the ball, man," Wells said. "That
team, they spread you out really well. They can shoot from the
1 (point guard) through the 5 (center). It just makes it tough
on our defense. Everybody has to rotate and guard someone and
it's just tough."
Portland closed to 54-45 at halftime and a layup by Wallace made
it 76-69 with 2:08 left in the third quarter. Van Exel
answered with a jumper, and the final period began with baskets
from Finley and Nowitzki, pushing the lead to 82-69 with 10:17
scored 13 points for the Blazers, who have lost
five of the last seven meetings with the Mavs.