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Dallas 103, Portland 99
Nash's Clutch Trey Trips Up Blazers

Dirk was 3-for-6 from beyond the arc Wednesday.
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DALLAS, April 23 (Ticker) -- The Portland Trail Blazers made the mistake of getting into a shootout with the Dallas Mavericks.

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Steve Nash scored 28 points, including a clutch 3-pointer and two free throws in the final 30 seconds, as the Mavericks took a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference first-round series with a 103-99 victory over the Trail Blazers.

Dallas was the highest-scoring team in the NBA during the regular season and has not slowed in the playoffs, where defense usually decides games. Portland's Bonzi Wells scored a team playoff-record 45 points, but the Blazers could not stop the Mavs, who scored on their final 12 possessions.

"Nash was the guy that made most of that happen, whether it was by pass or by shot," Dallas coach Don Nelson said.

Nash scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, making 3-of-4 3-pointers and 2-of-2 free throws. He hit 10-of-14 shots overall, including 5-of-6 3-pointers, and dished out eight assists.

"Tonight I had some opportunities on the offensive end to take it to the basket and be aggressive and score," Nash said. "That kind of set the tone for me."

"Steve has been doing that for us all year," Dallas guard Michael Finley said. "In the second half, he really picks and chooses his point to make an impact. Tonight it was just timely baskets for us."

The Canadian point guard gave Dallas the lead for good at 101-98 with a 3-pointer from the top of the circle with 26 seconds left. He sealed the win a pair of free throws 12 seconds later.

Wells was even more unstoppable with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting in the final 12 minutes. He scored 15 straight points down the stretch to single-handedly help Portland keep pace.

"My shot was going down. My teammates and my coaches had a lot of confidence in me," Wells said. "I had a lot of confidence today. I feel like I was going good to the hole and hitting my shot. If I stay aggressive like that, I should hopefully have some more games like this."

"I told (the rest of the team) to get out of the way," Portland coach Maurice Cheeks said. "Just try to get the ball in his hands and move out of the way and not get in his way. The same thing with Bonzi. When he's attacking the rim and making his jump shots, he's a tough player to guard."

Nash began the Mavericks' impressive scoring display down the stretch with a 3-pointer at the 8:27 mark. Dallas never trailed after his 3-pointer with 7:03 left made it 82-80.

Wells tied it with a dunk, but Dirk Nowitzki made a jumper for an 84-82 lead with 6:06 to go. Both teams scored two points on their next three possessions until Nowitzki buried a wide-open 3-pointer for a 93-88 lead with 3:41 to go.

But Wells answered with a 3-pointer over Nowitzki 17 seconds later to bring the Blazers back within two.

"It was a heckuva game," Nelson said. "I was sitting in the hot seat, so I didn't enjoy it as much as some. There were a lot of big shots that were made by both teams and nothing was left on the floor."

Nowitzki made 1-of-2 free throws with 67 seconds to go to give the Mavs a 98-95 edge. Wells missed a jumper at the other end, but teammate Dale Davis followed the shot and was fouled. He made the ensuing free throw to forge a 98-98 tie with 48 seconds left.

After Nash's heroics, Rasheed Wallace and Jeff McInnis missed 3-pointers in the final seconds as Portland lost its ninth consecutive playoff game.

Nowitzki had 25 points and nine rebounds and Finley scored 17 points for Dallas, which shot 49 percent (38-of-78) from the floor, including 12-of-25 from 3-point range.

Wallace finished with 18 points and Davis grabbed 15 rebounds for Portland, which hosts Game Three on Friday.

"Being down 2-0 really makes it tough because now we are really fighting our way out of a hole," Wells said. "We've got to go back out to Portland and secure two victories and make it back here. That's our mind-set right now. We definitely are trying to come back to Dallas."

The Blazers caused problems in the paint for the Mavericks, who saw starting forward Raef LaFrentz and starting center Shawn Bradley foul out.

"I thought not only did they make the game physical, they spoke about it on the days off," Nelson said. "They played very aggressively. They made it a very physical game and it took it toll on us."

Portland, which already was without injured swingman Scottie Pippen, lost starting guard Derek Anderson to a strained left knee early in the first quarter.

The teams traded the lead 11 times and were tied six times in the first quarter. Dallas had a 23-19 edge after Nick Van Exel made consecutive baskets to cap the first quarter and did not trail until the fourth.

Van Exel sparked a 13-2 run the Mavericks carried into the second. He capped the burst with a 3-pointer to give Dallas its largest lead, 31-21, with 9:14 remaining.

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