PORTLAND, Ore., April 25 (Ticker) -- Dirk Nowitzki
provided quite a
finishing kick for the Dallas Mavericks.
NBA TV highlights from|
Nowitzki scored 16 of his 42 points in the fourth quarter as the
Mavericks took a commanding 3-0 lead in their Western
Conference first-round series with a 115-103 victory over the
Portland Trail Blazers.
Dallas has won nine straight first-round games and sent Portland
to its 10th consecutive postseason loss. The Mavericks can
wrap up a third straight trip to the conference semifinals with
a win on Sunday in Game Four.
"We were very focused and I am glad we got the third win, but
because they moved it up to best-of-seven, it is not over,"
Nowitzki said. "We have to approach Game Four in the same way
as we did the first three."
After trailing throughout, Portland got two free throws from
with 32 seconds left in the third quarter to take
its first lead at 85-84. That only served as a wakeup call for
Nowitzki, who fell just shy of his team playoff-record 46-point
effort in Game One.
The German sensation, who also grabbed 10 rebounds, made his
first five shots of the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer
for a 94-89 advantage with eight minutes remaining. He hit
another shot from beyond the arc for a 99-93 lead with 6:32 to
"The one thing I told Dirk tonight was to get his teammates
involved a little more," Dallas coach Don Nelson said. "Don't
get me wrong, I still want him to be dominating, but he did a
good job of creating shots for his teammates."
After a free throw by Portland's Ruben Patterson
, Nowitzki again
found himself open on the perimeter and drilled another
3-pointer as Rasheed Wallace
flew by to give the Mavericks a
102-94 edge. It prompted a 20-second timeout by the Trail
The break did nothing to slow Nowitzki, who dunked off a feed
from Nick Van Exel
and completed a three-point play for a 107-95
cushion with 5:10 to play.
"I am definitely sure we have broken their spirit a little bit,
but they are still dangerous, they have a lot of pride and they
are going to be hungry," Van Exel said. "We don't want to give
that team a chance to think they have a chance to get into this
Ruben Patterson scored 18 of his playoff career-high 19 points
in the first half for Portland, which has not won in the
postseason since defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Six of
the 2000 conference finals.
The Trail Blazers are one loss shy of matching the NBA record
for consecutive playoff defeats, set by the Baltimore Bullets
from 1965-70 and matched by the Denver Nuggets from 1988-94.
Portland missed eight of its first nine shots in the fourth
"They are such a good offensive team, we just couldn't sustain
us scoring the basketball," Trail Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks
said. "At the end of the third quarter, we went up one to start
the fourth and they continued to put the pressure on us."
Portland was without injured starters Derek Anderson
Pippen. Anderson injured his left knee in Game Two and Pippen
has missed the last two contests with knee problems. It is
unlikely either will make another appearance in this series.
Dallas placed six players in double figures as Raef LaFrentz
scored 14 of his 20 points in the first half and Van Exel
chipped in 14. LaFrentz made 4-of-7 shots from beyond the arc
and Steve Nash
had a double-double with 12 points and 10
"Raef played very well tonight," Nelson said. "I told Raef he
had to score the ball."
Nowitzki made 15-of-20 shots, including 5-of-6 from beyond the
arc, and scored 12 points in the second quarter. The Mavericks
jumped out to a 16-4 lead and only the play of Patterson kept
Nelson was whistled for a technical foul near the close of the
half, and a tip-in by Randolph narrowed Portland's deficit to
, who poured in 45 points in Game Two, missed all
nine shots in the first half and fouled out with 15 points.
Wallace was in constant foul trouble and finished with 11.
No team in the NBA has rallied from a 3-0 deficit and the Trail
Blazers didn't sound confident about their chances.
"The way Dallas is shooting in this series, it's anybody's guess
if we can beat them," guard Damon Stoudamire
said. "When Raef
LaFrentz can score 20 points, I mean he's a good player and all,
but when he can add to the mix and hit those threes, it really
stretches the defense."