(Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
Earl K. Sneed recaps the Dallas Mavericks' overtime loss to Portland on Friday night as the defending champions fell to 1-2 on their homestand before traveling to Memphis.
Recap: Trail Blazers 99 at Mavericks 97 F/OT
DALLAS — Locked in a tight playoff race, the Dallas Mavericks entered Friday night’s matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers looking to finish their three-game homestand strong after a 95-85 win over the Memphis Grizzlies two nights prior.
The defending champions also tried to remain focused on the task at hand even with a rematch against the Grizzlies on deck Saturday night as the two teams battle for the fifth position in the Western Conference standings.
But after narrowly sneaking out a 97-94 double-overtime home win over the Blazers on Feb. 11, the Mavericks figured to be in for another dogfight before Saturday night’s Southwest Division matchup. And with backup big man Ian Mahinmi out due to the birth of his child and starting point guard Jason Kidd missing his third straight game with a strained right groin, the Mavs went in search of a win minus two of their top contributors.
Again, however, the Blazers would push the Mavericks beyond regulation, only this time the reigning titleholders wouldn’t be so fortunate. And with Seagoville native Lamar Aldridge’s game-winning jumper at the buzzer completing a comeback from as much as 15 down and giving the Blazers the final edge, the Mavericks (31-25) fell to 1-2 on their homestand after a 99-97 overtime loss.
“We’ve gotta keep going,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said after the loss. “I don’t know that it’s the time for amateur psychologists’ analysis. It’s a time for everybody to get in gear. We showed some signs tonight in the first half, but the third quarter was tough; it took a lot out of us. We battled to get back, but expended a lot of energy and then too much was left to chance. Unfortunately, that’s how it went.”
After turning his left ankle by stepping on a ball in the team’s morning shootaround, new addition Delonte West remained in the starting lineup in place of Kidd at the point. But the early minutes of opening quarter would prove to be a shootout between All-Star big men as Dirk Nowitzki and Aldridge exchanged scores.
Nowitzki’s lights-out shooting lifted his team to a lead as large as 10, but the Blazers (27-29) rallied behind lead guard Raymond Felton’s perimeter assault. Sixth man Jason Terry then joined the act while passing former Maverick Peja Stojakovic (1,760) for fifth on the NBA’s all-time 3-pointers list, lifting Dallas to a 27-17 lead before backup big man Brandan Wright’s empathic block on Jonny Flynn to close the quarter.
A driving and-1 score by third-year guard Rodrigue Beaubois got the Mavs off to a quick start in the second stanza. A three by Lamar Odom then served as a prelude to more success to come before Wright’s end-to-end play was capped off in spectacular fashion by a windmill jam off Terry’s alley-oop lob pass.
“I was just making a play. It’s not something you practice during the season, but during the summer, you practice stuff like that,” Wright modestly said. “It’s just one of those things — catch the ball and make a play with it.”
But the Mavs received a bit of scare after West went down awkwardly on the ailing ankle following a driving score over Aldridge. And with the newcomer in the locker room in the final minute of the half, the Mavs upped their advantage to as much as 15 before heading into the intermission with a 56-44 lead.
With Nowitzki scoring 12 points and Terry adding 10 points off the bench, the Mavericks overcame Aldridge’s 13-point half. The Mavs also finished the half outshooting the Blazers, 52.1 percent to 43.2 percent, in addition to a 22-20 rebounding advantage and 28-18 margin in points in the paint.
West would shake off the ankle injury to start the second half.
“I give him a lot of credit for being out there,” the coach said of West’s battle through the injury. “A lot of guys, I’d say the majority of guys in this league wouldn’t have. And he’s a great kid, he stands for all the right things on the basketball court and he gave us what he had.”
But the third period would start off the wrong way for the Mavs, with Carlisle forced to call timeout after Aldridge’s tip-in cut Dallas’ lead to 60-54 with 7:13 left in the period.
“When you build a 12, 15-point lead, one of the things you’ve gotta do is maintain a level where you can maintain a lead, maintain a cushion. We didn’t do that. And once you get behind the eight ball, a lot is left to chance, because you get the bounce of the ball, officials come into play more. So, we let it get away,” Carlisle explained.
It appeared that order would be restored after Odom found West on the wing for three, putting the Mavs ahead 66-58 with 3:58 left in the quarter. But Felton’s and-1 jumper and back-to-back threes — before another to close the period — powered a 16-0 Portland run to take a 74-66 lead into the fourth.
The Mavs were just 4-for-18 from the field in the third period.
“We weren’t very good,” Nowitzki said of the play in the third. “Missed some open shots and then they got hot. I mean, Felton was the difference there. He shot like four or five threes in row and we were just watching. That was a tough swing, to be up 15 going into the half and to be down eight basically going into the fourth.”
A technical foul call on Blazers reserve guard Jamal Crawford would breathe life into the stagnant Mavs in the final period. Wright then provided another highlight reel finish, slamming home a lefty jam off Beaubois’ feed to cut the deficit to one, 74-73, with 9:19 remaining.
The young duo hooked up again to extend the run to 11-0 as the Mavericks regained the edge on the scoreboard. But the Blazers continued to battle, taking the lead right back after Beaubois was called for a foul on Crawford’s three attempt. Crawford then dunked home a score after Terry’s erred pass, putting Portland up 84-81 with 5:44 on the clock.
Crawford and Terry then exchanged threes as the two teams remained evenly locked before Terry’s triple tied the game at 89-all with 2:26 left. But Crawford came right back, scoring with an up-and-under move to put the Blazers back ahead with 1:24 left.
Still, the Blazers couldn’t take advantage of a missed three by Terry inside the final minute, before the star reserve grabbed a defensive board off Crawford’s miss and found a cutting Shawn Marion to tie the game with 15.6 seconds on the clock.
Terry then fittingly sent the game into overtime, stealing a pass in the closing seconds before misfiring on a desperation attempt at the buzzer.
In the extra period, both teams went back to their go-to scorers as Aldridge and Nowitzki tried to carry their teams to a victory. But Nowitzki’s outlet pass to Marion would sail out of bounce in the final minute of extended play. And after Terry’s foul on Felton, the Blazers had 3.7 seconds to go for the win with the game knotted at 97-all.
“It was just a brutal play,” Nowitzki admitted. “I mean, what happened was I got the rebound, really wanted to hold it for the last shot and I looked up and he was just wide open. So, I mean, I tried to rush it to him, it just completely got away from me. … I should have just held it and gone for the last shot like I wanted to.”
“I think he was trying to hit him and he was just off — the pass was off. I’m sure he’d like to have it back,” Carlisle added.
That would be just enough time for Aldridge to rise up and nail a turnaround jumper over Brendan Haywood at the buzzer, sending the Mavs off their home floor with a two-point defeat.
“He scored. He made a strong dribble move, got a clean look and knocked it in,” Carlisle said of the final shot.
In the loss, six Mavericks scored in double figures led by Nowitzki’s 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting to accompany 14 rebounds. Terry added 18 points off the bench, Wright pitched in 13, Marion recorded 12 and Beaubois and West both registered 10.
Felton led all scorers with a game-high 30 points on 12-of-18 from the field and 5-of-8 from behind the arc.
“He was certainly a difference maker,” Carlisle said of Felton.
“He was hitting everything he was putting up,” Wright added.
Including the game-winning shot, Aldridge finished with 25 points on 11-of-24 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds. Crawford added 14 points off the bench.
Dallas scored 18 points off Portland’s 12 turnovers, giving up 15 points at the other end on 11 giveaways. The Mavs also finished the night with a 48-44 edge in points in the paint while outshooting the Blazers, 45.2 percent to 43.6 percent, but lost the rebounding battle, 51-44.
The Mavericks will now return to action Saturday night in Memphis on the second night of a back-to-back, looking to take the season series with the Grizzlies after both won on their home floor. The game will air locally on TXA 21 at 7 p.m. CT.
The Mavs return to the American Airlines Center on Tuesday night when they compete against the Sacramento Kings. The two teams are tied in the season series at 1-1 after both won by double digits on their own home floor. The game will air on locally TXA 21 at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS.
“We’ve gotta recover after this. This is definitely heart-breaking, but we’ve gotta get some rest tonight and come out swinging tomorrow,” Nowitzki concluded.
Single-game tickets are on sale and available at the American Airlines Center North Box Office, online at mavs.com, via phone by calling 214-747-MAVS or 1-800-4NBA-TIX and all Ticketmaster outlets (Fiesta Grocery Stores, Wal-Mart, Simon Mall in Garland and the Shops at Willow Bend in Plano).