The Blazers lost the first of a home-and-home against the Dallas Mavericks, coming up short in overtime. The Blazers overcame a double digit deficit with a late rally in the fourth but went cold in the overtime period. Lillard and McCollum's usual heroics were overshadowed by Dirk Nowtizki's clutch play.
The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard with 26 points and 8 assists . CJ McCollum added 22 and Mason Plumlee completed a double double of 14 points and 19 rebounds (10 offensive). Allen Crabbe came off the bench and scored 24 including six threes. Nowtizki led the Mavericks with 40 points while Deron Williams added 31 points and 16 assists.
Aminu started the game with a three against his former team but two quick fouls sent him to the bench. However, the Blazers jumped out to an 11-3 lead courtesy of some three pointers. Outside of a non-hobbled Wesley Matthews, the Mavericks don't start any plus defenders and the Blazers took advantage of some match ups to take the early lead. The Mavericks stayed close with some free throws courtesy of a flurry of Blazer fouls.
Matthews looked like he reinjured his knee and left the game (only to return). He was questionable to start the game and didn't look healthy early. Blazer fans who remember his ability to post up smaller players know that two consecutive turnovers against the undersized McCollum in the post didn't bode well for the former Blazer. Deron Williams stepped up to score 12 points in the first for the Mavericks. The Blazers played some ugly basketball highlighted by turnovers, fouls and missed free throws but some late shooting gave them a double digit lead.
End of First: Portland 36 Dallas 25
Nowitzki led Dallas' second unit on an early 8-0 run before CJ McCollum's floater pushed the lead to 38-33. The Mavericks used some physical trapping defense to run the Blazers off the three point line and, with McCollum running the offense, caused some ugly turnovers. The Mavs forced the ball out of McCollum's hands and dared other Blazers to beat them. Offensively, the Mavericks punished the Blazers' small ball unit by feeding Salah Mejri inside. A three by JJ Barea gave the Mavericks their first lead of the night at 42-41.
Lillard brought some stability back on offense but the Mavericks continued their second quarter surge led by Nowtizki and their swarming defense. Nowitzki hit a medley of fadeaway jumpers, layups, and free throws. Mason Plumlee was a monster on the offensive boards for the Blazers but none of the wing players could reward his effort with any sort of outside accuracy. The Blazers only mustered 19 points in the second quarter and went into the locker room with a small deficit.
Halftime: Portland 55 Dallas 58
The Blazers got McCollum involved for some early baskets but the Mavericks answered with a 12-2 run to extend their lead. Nowtizki continued his stellar play and opened up the perimeter for some outside shooting. Williams and Matthews licked their chops and kept the Maverick offense rolling. Matthews hit his sixth three to push the lead to 83-71. The Blazer offense was producing modestly but the defense made the Mavs look like the Golden State Warriors on their best day. Every time the Blazers looked like they might get a stop, Nowtizki bailed the Mavs out with a tough jumper. Mo Harkless scored a buzzer beating shot to keep the Blazers within striking distance.
End of Third: Portland 82 Dallas 90
The Blazers came out strong in the fourth and back to back threes by Crabbe and Aminu cut the lead to 92-90 and inspired a Mavs timeout. The Blazers trotted out a small lineup with Aminu at the four which spread the floor. This gave Lillard and McCollum room to operate and led to more threes by Crabbe and Aminu. Defensively, the Mavericks continued to score but Portland seemed content to turn the night into a shootout. A three by McCollum tied the game at 102 halfway through the fourth.
The teams traded shots with neither team gaining more than a four point advantage. Williams continued his excellent game and made a clutch jumper to take a two point lead with 37 seconds left. Lillard tied it at 113 with a runner before Mejri missed two free throws with 13 seconds left giving the Blazers a chance to win it. The Blazers ran an isolation play for Lillard but he missed a step back three and the game went into overtime.
Neither team could hit a shot to start the overtime period until Williams broke the tie with a transition three. The Blazers were getting open shots but nothing went down. Nowitzki hit a three to take a 121-113 lead and the Blazers never made a significant run.
The Blazers complete the second leg of their home-and-home against Dallas on Wednesday, March 23rd. Portland tipoff is set for 7pm. Stay tuned to Blazer's Edge today, for extended analysis of this game from Dave Deckard.