Inside Report: Mavericks-Trail Blazers recap — Aldridge, Roy hold off Dirk, Mavs late
Inside Report: Mavericks-Trail Blazers recap — Aldridge, Roy hold off Dirk, Mavs late
Earl K. Sneed recaps the action from the Rose Garden, as Portland's 1-2 punch of LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy was too much for Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks down the stretch, sending the Dallas team to a second straight loss.
PORTLAND, Ore. — After having to muscle their way to two hard-fought wins over the Portland Trail Blazers back in Dallas earlier in the season, the Mavericks entered the Rose Garden for the first time in the 2010-11 campaign well aware that they could be in for yet another dogfight.
The Mavericks (47-20) edged the Blazers by a combined nine points in those two victories, needing every bit of 48 minutes to hold off the Portland team on both occasions. And with the mid-season addition of Gerald Wallace and the return of Brandon Roy from knee issues only bolstering the Blazers’ lineup around big man LaMarcus Aldridge, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle expressed to his players the importance of once again competing for a full four quarters, as they tried to rebound from Saturday night’s 96-91 home loss to the back-to-back champion Los Angeles Lakers.
“The games have been extremely tight. They hinge on one possession,” Carlisle said of the two previous meetings with the Blazers. “They’re gonna be possession-oriented games. You want to get out and run when you can, but it’s tough because they value the ball and they don’t throw it away. So, any time we play these guys these games are gonna be tough games.”
Carlisle’s pre-game words were right on, only this time his team would be on the downside of the scoreboard, falling for the first time this season to the Blazers, 104-101.
With the two teams on pace coming into the night to meet up in a No. 2 versus No. 7 opening-round playoff series, Carlisle’s pre-game prediction still has a chance to take even more shape by season’s end. But on Tuesday night that just meant that the Mavs had failed in their bid to move to 3-0 against the possible postseason opponent before journeying to Oakland for Wednesday night’s showdown against the Golden State Warriors.
Once again the Mavericks would have to find a way to win without sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic, after the forward stayed behind in Dallas to further treat a stiff neck that had already kept him out of three games. But what the Mavs didn’t see coming was a late scratch of backup big man Brendan Haywood, after the 7-footer was ruled out of the game just before the opening tip-off due to lower back stiffness.
Still, the Mavericks would be just fine early on, sprinting to a quick lead behind perimeter shooting from second-year guard Rodrigue Beaubois and leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki. But after the Mavericks surged ahead by as much as eight, hitting their first 11 shots of the night in the process, Aldridge — a Seagoville native — and Wesley Matthews would power the Blazers (38-29) back into the game, trimming the Dallas edge to just 32-29 at the end of the opening period after Rudy Fernandez’s buzzer-beating jumper.
The trio of Beaubois, Nowitzki and forward Shawn Marion combined to score 28 of Dallas’ 32 points in the period.
The Mavs would then get a big lift from swingman DeShawn Stevenson to begin the second stanza, with the former high school standout showing that he can score from behind the 3-point arc and at the rim. But the lead wasn’t safe after Nowitzki was forced to head to the locker room with an apparent shoulder injury suffered when leaping for a rebound, allowing the Blazers to capitalize on his absence.
Sixth man Jason Terry would then seize the opportunity with Nowitzki away from the floor, draining multiple mid-range jumpers to put the Mavs back in front. But Nowitzki would in fact return to the floor in time to help the Mavericks take a 56-53 edge into the halftime intermission.
Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 12 points at the break, while Beaubois pitched in 11 to go with Marion’s 10 in the starting lineup. Most of which came off point guard Jason Kidd’s nine first-half assists.
Aldridge led all scorers at the midway point with 17 points to go along with Matthew’s 14. But the Mavericks outshot the Blazers, 64 percent to 45 percent, after two quarters of play. The Mavs were outrebounded, however, 20-14.
An empathic dunk by starting center Tyson Chandler opened up the second half, as the Mavericks looked to put some distance between the two teams in the third quarter. Nowitzki and Beaubois would do the honors, continuing their hot-shooting nights from the first half. Meanwhile, the spectacular finishes by Chandler continued, soaring high for an alley-oop lob pass from Kidd. But the center would let his emotions get the better of him a short time later, drawing a technical foul after batting the ball following his third foul on Aldridge inside.
The sequence would energize the Blazers, as Aldridge would later force Chandler into his fourth foul with an and-1 jump hook to force the Mavericks’ defensive stopper to take a seat on the bench while trimming Dallas’ lead to three.
“He’s a great player and this is the third game he’s really hurt us,” Carlisle said of Aldridge. “We used different coverages on him, different guys, and his ability to score inside and then pop out and hit shots makes him really tough.”
The reigning Western Conference Player of the Month would then lead his team to an advantage on the scoreboard, getting a helping hand from Roy — who drained a jumper as the third quarter buzzer sounded to send the Blazers into the fourth with an 82-80 edge.
Portland would then take that momentum into the final period and build upon it, speeding to a six-point lead with Aldridge continuing his domination inside. Terry would continue to keep his team close, though, shooting the Mavericks to within an arm’s reach before Marion’s transition score trimmed Dallas’ deficit to just two, 94-92, with 5:27 remaining.
At that time Aldridge began to close the door on the visiting team, but Nowitzki and Terry responded with a 5-0 run to climb to within one. That’s when Roy intervened, draining a jumper to lift his team to a 104-99 advantage with 47.6 seconds left.
“You’ve got to give them credit, they made so tough shots. I mean, Roy was in there in the paint a couple of times over Tyson … They made some tough shots,” Nowitzki explained.
After a foul on Blazers big man Marcus Camby, Nowitzki trimmed the disadvantage to three with a 2-for-2 trip at the foul line with 38.8 seconds still on the clock. The Mavericks then forced a miss from Aldridge, securing the rebound, advancing the ball and calling timeout with 8.8 ticks remaining.
After a timeout by Carlisle, the ball went in to Kidd, who tracked down a deflect. The ball eventually found Nowitzki in the corner, and after a pump fake to get Wallace in the air, the 7-footer launched a three just before the final horn went off. But the shot hit off the front of the rim as time expired, handing the Blazers their first win of the season over the Mavericks, with a fourth and final regular-season date between the two teams looming back at the Rose Garden on April 3.
“Actually it was a really good look for eight seconds,” Nowitzki said of the final sequence. “The ball actually got tipped and that stole another two seconds off the clock. Kidd had to run to the backcourt and get it, but for that I actually had a really good look. Faked out Wallace, three guys went with JET [Terry], who was a big threat down the stretch, obviously, kicked it to me, let him fly by and had a good look at it. Down three, that’s about as good of a look you’re gonna get.”
“In that situation you’d love to get a completely unmolested shot, but it’s difficult. I thought Dirk did a good job of creating a look and we just didn’t get it down,” Carlisle added.
Despite missing the final shot, Nowitzki registered a team-high 28 points on 9-of-14 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds. Marion added 18 points, while Beaubois’ 16, Terry’s 14 and Chandler’s 12 gave the Mavericks five scorers in double figures. Kidd finished with a game-high 14 assists, despite scoring just a single point and missing his only shot attempt.
Aldridge finished as the high-point man, scoring 30 points on 13-of-25 from the floor. Off the bench, Roy finished with 21 points.
“He made some tough shots and he looks like the Brandon Roy of old out there,” Nowitzki said. “If he shoots the ball like that they’ve got two legit go-to guys with Aldridge, who is playing phenomenal, and him. So, they’re gonna be tough to beat in the playoffs whoever they see.”
And after their first-half dominance on the glass, the Blazers ended the game with just a 34-33 rebounding edge, but 15 boards (10 in the first half) by the Portland team came on the offensive end.
In addition to a 48-36 advantage in points in the paint and 18-4 margin in fast-break points, the Blazers scored 22 points off the Mavericks’ 15 turnovers. And at the other end of the floor the Mavericks forced just seven Portland turnovers which led to only eight Dallas points.
In the loss, the Mavericks outshot the Blazers, 59.7 percent to 47.1 percent, but the Blazers took 18 more shots on the night, thanks in large part to their ability to create extra possessions on the offensive glass and their effectiveness scoring off Dallas’ miscues.
“I think the story of the game was just the possessions,” Carlisle said. “They got 18 more shots up than we did, because we struggled to finish off possessions and they got a lot of offensive rebounds. And the turnovers they forced turned into 22 points and we forced seven that turned into eight, so that’s a huge difference. That to me is the biggest part of the game and down the stretch they made plays.”
It’s the team’s highest shooting percentage in a loss since connecting on 60 percent in a 127-117 defeat to Atlanta on Mar. 15, 1991.
“Man, this is a tough one. You shoot 60 percent on the road and lose, that’s tough,” Nowitzki said. “Turnovers killed us down the stretch … We doubled them in turnovers and that really hurt us. Really, it was offensive rebounds in the first half and turnovers down the stretch.”
“It was a good game, we’ve just got to learn from our mistakes out there,” Marion added.
Now, the Mavericks will head to California looking to end a two-game skid, while hoping for their second victory over the Warriors with Haywood listed as questionable for the showdown. Back on Dec. 7, the Mavericks handed the Warriors a 105-100 loss at the American Airlines Center. And with one of the NBA’s top scorers — Monta Ellis — lined across from them, Marion says that the Mavericks’ defense will again be tested.
“It’s a totally different team. That ain’t the same kind of team we play tomorrow,” Marion pointed out when looking ahead to the Warriors. “They don’t have a LaMarcus Aldridge over there, but they’ve got a Monta Ellis over there and a couple of other guys that are playing well. So, we’ve just got to get our rest, because it’s gonna be a track race. They put up a lot of points, they like to score, so that’s all.”
Note: Wednesday night the Mavs will head into Oracle Arena to match up with the Warriors. The Mavs will try to snatch a second win in the three-game season series when the two teams meet again in a matchup that will tip off at 9:30 p.m. CT, airing nationally on ESPN and locally on Fox Sports Southwest.
The team returns to the American Airlines Center next Friday night to host the league-leading San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio leads the season series 2-1. The matchup will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest. Great seats are still available and tickets can be purchased by visiting the American Airlines Center box office, logging on to Mavs.com or by calling 214-747-MAVS (6287).
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