Earl K. Sneed recaps the action from Monday night's Game 5 between the Mavericks and the Portland Trail Blazers, as the Dallas team bounced back from a disappointing Game 4 and took a 3-2 edge in the series with a win on its home floor behind Dirk Nowitzki's scoring and Tyson Chandler's offensive rebounding.
DALLAS — In the wake of their fourth-quarter collapse in an 84-82 Game 4 loss in Portland, the Dallas Mavericks returned to their home gym Monday night concentrating on the positive.
Knowing that a win in Game 5 over the Trail Blazers would give the Mavs a 3-2 advantage before heading back to the Rose Garden for Thursday night’s Game 6, the Dallas team took the court not focused on the blown 23-point advantage on Saturday night but instead on what worked well to build the large lead heading into the game’s final period.
And with an opportunity to erase the memories of the loss by simply holding serve on their home floor, as has been the case for both teams all series, the Mavericks and coach Rick Carlisle confidently walked into the American Airlines Center ready to treat the Blazers to some southern hospitality.
Unlike Game 4, however, the Mavericks had no problem dismantling the Blazers back in front of their home crowd, dominating the second half and cruising late to a 93-82 victory to head back to Portland with an opportunity to close the series out on Thursday night.
“I think it says a lot about us,” center Tyson Chandler said after producing a career night in the win. “I think nobody slept well after that loss. It was tough. A long flight coming home from Portland and it was one of those bitter losses and I think everybody was in shock. But to come back and have a night like this really is huge for us to kind of pull together, and this is the type of basketball that we’ve got to play.”
Learning from their previous game, the Mavericks opened up the fifth contest in the series by looking inside for Chandler from the opening tipoff. The 7-foot-1’s interior scoring and first-quarter rebounding — scoring seven points and grabbing seven boards in the period — got the Mavs off to a quick start.
“When guys are playing that hard, it’s just playing basketball and making plays. Tyson was the recipient of some stuff, and it was great. That helped get his energy going on the boards and everything else,” Carlisle said.
But the Blazers countered at the other end by scoring in the paint as well. And after scoring 16 points in the painted area, the Blazers took a 20-15 lead into the second quarter.
Carrying over an 8-0 run from the end of the first that stopped at 11 unanswered, the Blazers looked to take a double-digit advantage early in the second stanza. But the Mavericks battle back into the game by getting to the free throw line, while a stifling defense tried to slow the rugged Blazers down.
The American Airlines Center crowd would then come alive after sixth man Jason Terry led a 10-2 spurt to give the Mavs a 30-27 edge with a corner 3-pointer.
“We wanted to come out and set the tone early in our building. Again, disappointed in the way we ended Game 4, but tonight was no letdown at all,” Terry pointed out.
But the star reserve would soon find himself in a shootout with Blazers point guard Andre Miller, until versatile forward Shawn Marion sparked a 7-0 spurt to end the first 24 minutes of play with a 44-43 edge at the halftime intermission.
Behind leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki’s 12 first-half points to go along with nine for Terry, the Mavericks jumped out to the one-point margin despite being outshot, 47.6 percent to 45.7 percent. And with Chandler grabbing nine boards by the midway point, leading the Mavericks to a 22-18 advantage on the glass, the home team made up for a 28-18 disadvantage in points in the paint.
Nowitzki immediately got back to work early in the third quarter, draining mid-range jumpers to continue the Mavs’ run from the end of the second quarter that ended at 13-2.
“I really haven’t shot the ball well this series and I was just trying to make something happen,” Nowitzki simply said.
An attacking Nowitzki and his frequent trips to the foul line opened the game up in the third, before Terry and the second unit frustrated Blazers coach Nate McMillan enough to draw a technical foul on Portland’s sideline leader.
It all added up to a 75-63 Dallas lead heading to the fourth period, as the Mavs tried to avoid a repeat of their fourth-quarter failure in Game 4.
“We did the exact same thing in Game 4. Our problem was we let up in the fourth quarter,” Chandler explained. “We played great for three quarters and then we let up in the fourth quarter.”
But unlike Saturday night’s final quarter the Mavericks wouldn’t let this lead slip away, locking down on the defensive end and turning stops into scores at the other end. With Chandler crashing the offensive glass, the Mavericks continued to control the pace and flow of the game. Meanwhile, Nowitzki and Terry delivered the final touches with clutch scores, while the Blazers missed 10 straight shot attempts on their offensive end.
However, it would be sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic that would deliver the knockout blow, swishing a 3 with 4:24 remaining to give the Mavs an 89-69 advantage. The Mavericks would never be seriously tested the rest of the way, although the Blazers climbed to within 11 in the final two minutes of play before both teams emptied their benches.
Behind Nowitzki’s game-high 25 points on 8-for-18 from the floor and eight rebounds the Mavericks cruised to the victory, with Terry adding 20 points off the bench.
Meanwhile, Chandler tallied up a 14-point, 20-rebound night, setting a playoff career-high and franchise record with his 13 offensive rebounds, breaking Roy Tarpley’s club mark of 11 which had stood since May 27, 1988. It’s the most offensive boards a player has pulled down in a playoff game since Shaquille O’Neal’s 14 on May 16, 1995.
“Really just wanted to get myself involved in the series,” Chandler explained. “I told Coach today that I’ve been on the weak side the entire series, I haven’t been able to really get involved. So, I figured that was one of the ways that I could get involved, getting in transition, getting in the pick-and-roll, rolling and if I didn’t get it I’d be in position to get some boards.”
“[Chandler] had great activity at both ends,” Carlisle added. “His offensive rebounding was phenomenal — 13 — and contributed a lot to our second-chance points. Every time he tips one out and we get it back and the crowd gets into it, it makes a huge difference. He’s been giving us great energy, but he hadn’t been able to get his scoring going. Tonight he was able to do that.”
Marion added 14 points to give the Mavericks four players in double figures, while point guard Jason Kidd dished out a game-high 14 assists despite scoring just four points on 1-of-7 shooting.
Miller led four Blazers in double figures with 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting, as Portland outshot the Mavericks, 43.2 percent to 41.0 percent. But after his 18-point fourth quarter en route to 24 points in Game 4, Brandon Roy totaled just five points on 2-of-7 shooting off the Blazers’ bench. And behind Chandler, the Mavs ended the night with a 49-37 rebounding advantage, leading to a 17-8 edge in second-chance points.
The Mavericks now head into Thursday night’s Game 6 looking to do what they couldn’t do twice in the regular season and twice more in Games 3 and 4, win in the hostile Rose Garden with a chance to wrap up the first-round series.
“The hardest thing in this league is to shut the door,” Kidd said while looking ahead. “We’re going to have our hands full up there in Portland.”
“We’ve just gotta find a way up there … and stay in striking distance and hopefully steal one in the end,” Nowitzki added.
The first-round series between the two teams continues as follows:
Game 6 Thu April 28 Dallas at Portland TBD TBD TBD
Game 7 * Sat April 30 Portland at Dallas TBD TBD TNT