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
"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
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.