In a Nutshell
Raymond Felton pounds the Mavericks in places they didn't know they had, pushing the Blazers ahead of the Mavericks after a slow start. Dallas' comeback in the fourth quarter forces overtime but LaMarcus Aldridge hits a fade-away to win the game at the OT buzzer.
You don't want to know much about the first quarter of this game. Portland's offense was outside and guard-oriented. Raymond Felton displayed his now-customary hot start but nobody else was hitting besides LaMarcus Aldridge with a couple jumpers. Portland's guards weren't playing defense either. The Mavericks rebounded Portland's bricks and ran to the can. Dallas led 27-17 after one and it looked like another typical Portland road loss.
The Blazers went plenty cold in the early second period, cementing the impression that this game was lost. The second unit missed shots, turned over the ball, and didn't defend. Dallas was up 15 within four minutes. Then the first unit came back in and thankfully started going through Aldridge. He responded with 8 points in the period, seasoned by a few three-point shots from the backcourt. The lack of defense remained constant, so even though the Blazers scored 27 in the frame they allowed Dallas 29. Portland was down a dozen, 56-44, at the half.
The halftime speeches of the two coaches could probably be summarized thus, at least judging by the effect the break had on the team:
Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle: Nice game, guys. Take it home and we can all go out for soft serve.
Portland Coach Kaleb Canales: Defend or I'm going to kill that puppy you got for Christmas.
The Mavericks came out in the third thinking, "Mmmm...I wonder if they have that swirly kind..." while the Blazers were all, "Oh no! Not Mr. Beauregard! GIVE ME THAT BALL!!!" Portland forced Dallas into an immediate 24-second violation followed by a host of contested short shots which morphed into a host of semi-contested long shots as the quarter progressed. The Mavericks made 4 shots all period. Felton, meanwhile, followed up his usual hot start to the game with an even hotter middle...a rarity. Apparently when he told our own Ben Golliver following Wednesday night's game that he was going to keep it 100 with people he meant points. Dude scored 16 in the quarter, leaving everybody in the arena, at home, and most neighboring planets going, "WHAAAAA?!?!?" It's like every shot he ever took all year that bricked suddenly went in all at once. He was like a six-year-old in summer, going inside-outside, inside-outside, hitting it so much that Dallas screamed at him to stop slamming the screen door. Too bad. Shoulda locked it after he went out. Portland led 74-66 after three. That's right...Portland led. After being down a dozen. They made up 20 points in the period. All of a sudden all of those chubby shirtless Mavs fans were showing visible signs of indigestion.
Naturally the Mavericks weren't taking this lying down. Dirk Nowitzki came out and hit a jumper to start the fourth and then the Mavs started running inside like it was hailing. Jason Terry...Rodrigue Beaubois...Brandan Wright (three times!)...all of them scored right at the rim. In 3.5 minutes the Mavs were up 3 again. You wondered if the curtain was coming down as fast as the Blazers were. From then on it was a slug-fest. Well, more of a slap-fight really as Portland's guards and their Mavericks counterparts starting playing dueling jump shots. Wesley Matthews hit a couple of threes and Jamal Crawford hit a three and got fouled attempting another. Jason Terry hit a couple of deep shots for Dallas. Felton, Crawford, and Shawn Marion peppered in a couple of close attempts. When the dust cleared the game was tied at 91 with 15 seconds left and the Blazers with the ball. They couldn't get up a shot, though, turning over the ball as Terry attempted a desperation heave that missed. The game went into overtime.
The two teams stopped messing around in the OT. The scoring for Dallas went Nowitzki, Nowitzki, Marion. For Portland it was Aldridge, Aldridge, Felton. Dallas had a couple other people shoot in the period but nobody else did for Portland besides the two hot guys. That turned out to be smart. Felton missed an incredibly long three against the clock with 23 seconds remaining and the score tied at 97. Nowitzki rebounded the ball but biffed the outlet pass. Portland had a final chance. They ran down the clock but Dallas had a foul to give, which Beaubois used on Felton with three seconds remaining. Portland called timeout. Dallas made the mistake of letting Aldridge catch the ball and he hit the prettiest mid-range fading shot you've ever seen at the buzzer. Blazers win 99-97.
This was a great accomplishment considering how hard the Blazers had to fight to achieve it. Both teams played brain-dead for portions of the game but in the end they cleared that aside and went strength-on-strength. The Blazers looked the Mavericks in the eye and took it. That shows plenty about their agenda and their drive. In some ways this may have been the best game of the year considering the circumstances and the finish.
After blowout losses my custom is to not run down individual notes because the team loses as a unit. I'm going to invert that tonight and look at only three players because I'd like credit to shine and because after such a win, positive things should rule the day. If you've got something to say about the guys I don't mention, go ahead and leave it in the comment section.
LaMarcus Aldridge was masterful tonight, owning this game like a star when he needed to, especially in that overtime. The Blazers went through him and him alone when it counted and he paid them off. His defense in this game was really nice too. It was one of the best all-around efforts we've seen from LMA all year. 11-24 shooting, 25 points, 12 rebounds (6 of each stripe), and 44 minutes of play.
Raymond Felton had his best game of the season and one of the best of his career, you have to believe. He shot 12-18, 5-8 from distance, for 30 points with 6 assists, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals. He helped everywhere tonight. The only reason the assist number wasn't higher was his teammates weren't exactly coming through.
Nicolas Batum had an understated but important game, shooting only 3-9 for 6 points but grabbing 9 rebounds, dishing 5 assists (!), and playing some critical defense in that second half. He was a great complement to the two big scorers.
A hearty standing ovation goes out to that trio.
Fun With Numbers
- Only 19 free throws were attempted in this game. Dallas went 6-8, the Blazers 9-11.
- Portland had 14 offensive rebounds and 51 overall...huge numbers compared to their efforts of late.
- All the other numbers were pretty even, as you'd expect. The Blazers hit 8-21 threes for 38% while the Mavericks went 7-24 for 29%. That was the most significant difference remaining and it amounted to 3 points.
It's good to remember that some days it is fun to be a Blazers fan. While everybody else is having Good Friday, Portland Trail Blazers supporters had Great Friday.
Mavs Moneyball will groan about this game.