(Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
Earl K. Sneed reports from Portland and recaps the Dallas Mavericks' third straight win, after the defending champs got off to a big lead on the Blazers without point guard Jason Kidd in the lineup before holding on late.
Recap: Mavericks 97 at Trail Blazers 94
PORTLAND, Ore. — Just a night after recording a near triple-double and leading the Dallas Mavericks to a 112-103 win over Golden State to begin their four-game road trip, starting point guard Jason Kidd was not available as the defending champions returned to the Rose Garden for the first time since ending the Portland Trail Blazers’ 2010-11 campaign in the first round of the playoffs.
Tallying up nine points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists against the Warriors on Thursday night, Kidd suited up for the second game after missing the previous four due to a strained right groin. Still, with the Mavs set to play the second of four games in five days and Sunday’s matinee matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers on deck, coach Rick Carlisle made the executive decision to rest the 39-year-old lead guard despite Dallas’ one-half game edge for the sixth spot in the Western Conference playoff race.
“This is prescheduled, so there was no consideration of anything, except that this is what we’re gonna do,” Carlisle explained. “It’s just something that coming off his nine or 10-day layoff, where there was rehab and a situation with his groin, it just didn’t make sense to plow through four games in five nights. This is where we’re at and we’re gonna have to get it done with the guys we have available.”
Fortunately for the Mavs, the Blazers were also down a top contributor as All-Star big man LaMarcus Aldridge continued to sit for the remainder of the season due to a hip injury. And after the two teams split two meetings in Dallas that needed a total of three overtime periods earlier in the season, the Mavs looked for a third straight win overall while trying to make up for the absence of Kidd.
Without their floor general running the show, the Mavs wouldn’t have a problem getting off to a quick start. But after clicking on all cylinders for the better part of three quarters, the Mavericks (34-26) would find themselves in a dogfight down the stretch, holding on late for a 97-94 victory to head into Sunday’s matchup against the Lakers riding a three-game winning streak.
“The first three quarters, they were good. But it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. We didn’t finish well, and that’s something we’ve gotta take care of moving into Sunday,” new addition Delonte West said after the victory.
“It would have been good to have [Kidd] out there, but he rested and it was good to get out there and get a win with our point guard on R and R,” forward Shawn Marion added.
West and fellow newcomer Vince Carter occupied the backcourt while leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki sparked a 9-0 spurt to open the game. The 11-time All-Star forward then received a helping hand from Marion to up their team’s advantage to as large as 14, taking a 30-16 margin into the second quarter after Nowitzki hit 4-for-4 from the floor for 10 points in the period.
With backup big man Brandan Wright again showing a flare for highlight reel finishes above the rim, the Mavs’ second unit pushed the tempo while extending the lead to 20. Then Nowitzki rejoined the action and resumed his offensive assault.
But the Blazers (28-32) wouldn’t give in easily while playing without their best player, climbing back to within six behind swingman Nicolas Batum before West took control of matters and boosted the Mavs to a 56-41 halftime advantage.
Led by Nowitzki’s 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting and Wright’s near first-half double-double with 11 points and eight rebounds, the Mavs outshot the Blazers through two quarters, 47.9 percent to 38.6 percent, in addition to a 30-20 rebounding edge. Dallas also overcame 12 Portland points off the Mavs’ seven turnovers with a 13-4 margin in second-chance points.
After deferring to Nowitzki in the first half, West began the third quarter aggressively looking for his own shot. Meanwhile, Marion’s activity on the glass and defensive pressure kept the Blazers’ home crowd quiet as the lead ballooned to as much as 24 before entering the fourth with an 81-61 separation.
Trying to stage an epic comeback, the Blazers charged to within 13 before Nowitzki drained a three and West connected on a jumper to make it an 88-70 score in Dallas’ favor. The Blazers charged right back, however, behind big man J.J. Hickson in place of Aldridge, forcing a Carlisle timeout with the Mavs up just 88-77 with 6:35 remaining.
“That little, small lineup gave mismatch problems for us,” Marion said after the Blazers switched to a more athletic lineup to get back into the game. “They took advantage of it and that’s how they got back into the game. They were just out there squirming around and getting their hands on live balls.”
The Mavs tried to settle down after a steal by sixth man Jason Terry led to a dunk by West, taking a 93-77 edge on Terry’s corner three to protect the lead as the two finished the game with third-year guard Rodrigue Beaubois out due to a right calf strain. But the Blazers weren’t done just yet, capitalizing on Dallas' miscues and turnovers to cut the Mavs’ lead to just 93-89 on Hickson’s and-1 score over Nowitzki with 1:18 left.
After a steal by Marion and quick timeout, the Mavs stood 53.4 seconds away from hanging on. But neither team would alter the score until Nowitzki’s two free throws extended the lead to six with 16.6 seconds remaining.
Jamaal Crawford and Wright then exchanged scores before Wesley Matthew’s three beat the buzzer but was too little, too late.
“Just a bad finish, a couple of rough turnovers. I mean, we had the game basically under control. They made a couple of runs, but I thought we withstood those runs pretty good until all the way at the end,” Nowitzki explained. “A couple of high school turnovers there — I turned it over like three times in a row, some bad lob passes with like 20 seconds on the clock and just some bad decision-making going on. It’s kind of frustrating, ’cause we played a heck of a game. We competed, we played hard … but that end left a little sour taste in our mouths.”
In the win, Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting and 4-for-5 from three. West added 21 points on 10-of-17 from the field, dishing out seven assists and grabbing three steals to offset six turnovers while playing 44 minutes in place of Kidd.
“In the eight years I’ve been in the league, I’ve started, come off of the bench, and I prepare myself for situations,” West modestly said of his play.
Marion registered 17 points and 14 rebounds, Wright added 13 points and eight rebounds off the bench and Terry made it five Mavs in double figures with 10 points in a reserve role.
Batum led five Blazers in double figures with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting. But the Mavericks outshot the Blazers, 48.2 percent to 42.2 percent, in addition to a 51-38 rebounding margin to overcome 30 Portland points off 21 Dallas turnovers.
“It’s a big win. You’ve got to give them credit, they’re persistent. We made mistakes. We made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes, but we survived it. So, that’s a positive and we’ve gotta get ready for the next game.”
The Mavericks will now return to action Sunday in the Staples Center against the Lakers, looking to avoid a sweep in the four-game season series. The Lakers have won all three previous meetings. The game will air nationally on ABC at 2:30 p.m. CT.
Note: 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.