PORTLAND, Ore., March 28 (Ticker) --
After one of their worst efforts
of the season, the Portland Trail Blazers knew they had to take
care of business.
scored 20 points to lead seven players in double
figures as the Trail Blazers used a big third quarter to coast
to a 112-95 rout of the league-leading Dallas Mavericks.
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"We approached this game with a business-like attitude,"
Portland coach Maurice Cheeks said. "Not a lot was said before
the game. The guys knew what we had to do. We had the weight
on our shoulders."
Coming off a poor showing in Wednesday's loss at Utah and in
danger of dropping a season-high fourth straight game, the Trail
Blazers delivered a virtually flawless performance in the third
In its loss to the Jazz, almost everything went wrong for
Portland. It allowed Utah to make half its shots and collect 31
assists, while the Jazz forced 20 turnovers.
Portland took a 51-44 lead into the locker room and used a 22-7
burst to extend its lead from 68-60 to 90-67 with just under one
minute remaining in the period. The Blazers shot 81 percent
(17-of-21) from the field, outrebounded the Mavs, 10-1, and
scored 44 points.
Playing with a chip on its shoulder and with injured point guard
cheering from the bench, Portland made Dallas
appear lost on defense most of the night with its solid ball
movement and strong shooting performance.
"We came out with a team game, not just because we had seven
players in double figures, but a team game all around in
everything we did," Cheeks said. "Defense, rebounding, shooting
ball movement - all of that was really good. I just think
tonight's game was good because our guys were prepared. They
knew what we had to do."
But according to Bonzi Wells
, it wasn't necessarily Cheeks' idea
for the emphasis on ball movement.
"We said 'Coach, we need more movement," Wells said. "If we're
going to be a tough team to guard, it's going to take all five
of us, not one guy pressing to the post and the rest of us
standing there. We all have to move around and touch the ball.
"We exposed them. We moved the ball from side to side and got
easy drives through the lane. It was just beautiful basketball
Wallace had seven points during the decisive spurt, helping
Portland (45-27) move percentage points ahead of Minnesota for
fourth place in the Western Conference. The top four teams in
each conference have the home-court edge in the opening round of
Wallace led the Blazers in scoring for the second straight game,
but he had plenty of help. Dale Davis
victimized Shawn Bradley
and Raef LaFrentz
, scoring all 16 of his points in the third.
and Damon Stoudamire
efficiently directed the
offense, combining for 11 assists and 33 points.
Overall, Portland had one of their best all-around efforts of
the season. It shot 54 percent (44-of-81) and outrebounded the
Mavericks, 44-27. Its ball movement also led to 29 assists.
scored 20 points for Dallas (54-18), which played
without injured star guard Michael Finley for the fifth straight
game and had a three-game winning streak stopped.
The loss reduced Dallas' lead to 2 1/2 games over second place
San Antonio in the Midwest Division.
The Mavericks suffered just their second loss of more than 15
points and left coach Don Nelson and Nowitzki ashamed.
"That's embarrassing," he said. "Rebounding has been a problem
all year and they just totally dominated us there. We don't
expect to win the rebound game every night, but we do expect to
be a little closer than that."
"It wasn't just the third quarter, it was the whole game,"
Nowitzki said. "It was one of the worst performances of the