(Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images)
Earl K. Sneed reports from Portland and previews the Dallas Mavericks' matchup Friday night against the LaMarcus Aldridge-less Blazers in the second outing of a four-game road trip.
Preview: Mavericks (33-26) at Trail Blazers (28-31)
PORTLAND — It took two overtime periods for the Dallas Mavericks to hang onto a 97-94 home win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Feb. 11.
The two teams would then go past regulation again in Dallas last Friday night, before All-Star big man and Seagoville native LaMarcus Aldridge sent the Mavericks (33-26) off their home floor with a 99-97 loss thanks to his buzzer-beating jumper as time expired in overtime.
Now, the Mavs will try to take the rubber match Friday night in Portland for the right to claim the season series, doing so with Aldridge no longer anchoring the Blazers’ attack after being forced to sit for the remainder of the year with a hip injury.
Claiming back-to-back wins over Sacramento and Golden State before entering the Rose Garden, the Mavs will try to take the second leg of a four-game road trip by taking advantage of an Aldridge-less Portland team. But after witnessing Blazers point guard Raymond Felton catch fire for a game-high 30 points on 12-of-18 from the field and 5-of-8 from behind the arc last week, the Mavs figure to be in for another dogfight on Friday night.
“Well, we have obviously got a tough stretch here,” leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki said after posting 27 points to power a 112-103 win in Oakland on Thursday night. “We have four games in five nights, all on the road, and that’s never easy. You know, we’ll take it one game at a time. So, it was a good win for us [Thursday night]. Another one in Portland. The Rose Garden is a tough place to play, I don’t care who suits up for them.”
“We’ve put together a couple wins, which is positive,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle added. “We had a couple ugly stretches … but those things happen. Right now, the biggest thing we have to do is get showered, get on the plane to Portland, get settled in there and get ready for a battle, because each game is super meaningful for us. It’s not only trying to win games, it’s trying to get playing better, and that’s a task.”
With the win over the Warriors, the Mavs claimed sole position of the sixth position in the Western Conference playoff picture after entering the night in a three-team tie with Houston and Denver. Now, the Mavericks will try to widen that one-half game gap by taking down the Blazers (28-31) in the same building where the defending champions closed Portland’s season in the first round of the playoffs with a 103-96 Game 6 road win.
To do so, the Mavs will again look to balanced play after five players scored in double figures Thursday night with 57 points coming from the bench. And with point guard Jason Kidd falling just shy of a triple-double, registering nine points, 10 rebounds and dishing out 12 assists, the Mavs will again look to their floor general to carry them to a victory after moving to 18-1 this season when scoring at least 100 points and 9-0 when shooting 50 percent or better.
“That’s what he does, he runs the show for us,” Nowitzki said of Kidd’s engineering. “People most of the time leave him and he’s a great spot-up shooter, so he made some big shots again. You know, he’s the head of the snake, and if we obviously want to play well in the playoffs or even make the playoffs here in the last seven games, we need him out there and directing everything, for sure.”
“It has never been in our minds that we won’t be in the postseason,” Kidd added. “That’s what we play the game for, to see if you can get in the postseason and see if you can get hot, lock in and see if you can win a championship. Right now, guys are getting better when we take the floor. You can see the ball movement. And when we score 100 points, we have a pretty good record.”
Note: Tied at 1-1 in the season series, the Mavericks-Blazers game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest and nationally on ESPN at 9:30 p.m. CT.
The Mavs return to the American Airlines Center on April 18 when they play host to the Houston Rockets. The Mavs lead the season series 2-0 and will go for the sweep. That game will air locally on TXA 21 at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS.
Single-game tickets for the first two Mavs home games of the first round of the playoffs will go on sale Saturday, April 14 at 10 a.m. CT. Tickets will be available online at mavs.com, via phone (214-747-6287 or 1-800-4NBA-TIX) and at the American Airlines Center® North Box Office. Ticket prices start at $12 and up and there is a four-ticket limit per game.
A lottery system will be in place for those fans that choose to purchase their tickets at American Airlines Center. Beginning at 8:30 a.m. CT, a lottery number will be given to each fan. At approximately 9 a.m., there will be a drawing to determine the first person in line. All numbers sequentially following the drawn number will be the second, third, fourth, etc. in line.
Lottery numbers (at American Airlines Center) do not guarantee anyone the right to purchase game tickets. Tickets will be sold upon availability. American Airlines Center® policy prohibits camping out on the premises. Parking will be available in the Platinum Parking garage.
Dates and times for the first two games have not been announced but will be posted on mavs.com by April 27th.