Dirk Nowitzki dominates Portland as Dallas takes 101-89 win and 2-0 series lead
Looking good in the first opening quarter, the Portland Trail Blazers fall victim to a more overpowering and dominate Mavericks team throughout the rest of the game and collapse in the fourth to lose 101-89 and fall to 0-2 in the series. If the Blazers weren’t worried today, they should be raising red flags on the long flight home back to Portland tonight. While Gerald Wallace and Wesley Matthews improved their performances early on, they disappeared for the rest of the game and looked completely lost while on the floor. On the other end, it was the Jason Kidd Show Part 2 and added new sidekicks JJ Berea and Peja Stojakovic who just scored at will whenever they wanted to. Dirk Nowitzki was Mr. Fourth Quarter once again and ran the Blazers out of the American Airlines Center going to the foul line at will, whenever he wanted. LaMarcus Aldridge still posted solid numbers but got little to no help with the game at the line. Dallas dominated, we cowardly hid in the corner and shielded our eyes. Portland is two games away from ending the season.
Like a copy of Game 1, Portland jumped out to an early lead and were led by a more active and aggressive Gerald Wallace and Wesley Matthews. Wallace driving down the lane to put the ball in the basket and Matthews connecting on his perimeter jump shots. Jason Kidd misses his first couple of shots as did Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavs as a team started shooting 2-8 from the floor and having to sit big man Tyson Chandler with two quick fouls. Wallace who had 8 points the entire Game 1 was already at 10 points and running the ball coast to coast and leading the fast break. Halfway through the Blazers were up 11-5 and the air was starting to filter out of the American Airlines Center. Things get scary when Matthews and Jason Terry smack into each other’s heads as Matthews seems to be knocked out cold. He would get up soon after and heads to the locker room, he would return three minutes later but sits until the second quarter. Portland’s eight point lead vanishes as Dallas go on a 10-4 run all thanks to two threes by Stojakovic (who averages little under 7 points a game by the way) and the Mavs bench just cream the Blazers bench once Andre Miller and Marcus Camby leave the floor. A Nic Batum three and a Aldridge jump shot answer with five quick points. Just like Game 1, the Blazers hold a slim lead after one, 24-22 after one. The Mavs continue to shoot below their average with 40% from the floor and 1-6 made field goals. Batum puts Portland back up by four but not enough to contain Stojakovic as he has 10 early points and another three. Another 7-2 Portland run is met with two straight four point plays from Kidd and Nowitzki and a Terry fast break dunk ties the game at 38. Kidd continued his hot hand and sinks another three to give Dallas the lead, oh and throw in another three-point Nowitzki play. Matthews attacks with 5 quick points and Portland rebound with a 10-2 run and maintain a 52-50 lead at the half shooting 51% from the floor. Things would get nasty from here.
My heart sank when Kidd started the third quarter with hitting nine straight points to bring Dallas up 59-55, a 11-4 Mavs run is born. Portland’s shooting start to drop off and they go ice-cold, only able to get things back down to three. Wallace brought them down to only one and both teams traded leads and runs, Portland go on to a 11-5 run and are only down by three, 73-72 going into the fourth.
This is how the fourth quarter went for the Blazers:
“Hey Dre, give me the ball, I got Haywood so I’ll try to get him into foul trouble.”
“Sure thing LA.”
“No wait, I’m being doubled team like crazy, I’ll pass it back, here Dre.”
“Okay, I’ll take my chances and drive inside. On second thought, I don’t want to anymore, here Wes you take it.”
“I shoot the threee-nah I don’t want it either. My head still hurts. Who wants the ball? Gerald?”
“Yeah gimme the ball man. I can’t get inside the paint, there are too many bodies. Catch Nic.”
“I’m behind the three-point line but I don’t want to pull the trigger. Guess you get it back Dre.”
“Okay seriously guys who wants the ball? Roy?”
“No I can’t run this offense and my legs aren’t what they used to be. Give it to Rudy, see what he can do.”
“No, gracias, no lo quiero.”
And this is how Dallas went through the fourth quarter:
“Give the ball to Dirk.”
“Here Peja, go and shoot three bombs from beyond the arc to ice the game away.”
“Sure thing coach.”
And like that, the game was over.
WHO WAS HOT
This makes me sick to my stomach: Dirk Nowitzki blasted 33 Pts, 7 Reb, 4 Ast and 15-17 from the free throw line. Jason Kidd with 18 Pts, 4 Reb, 8 Ast and 3-6 from three. Peja Stojakovic leads the bench with 21 Pts, 5 Reb and 5-10 from deep. Dallas shoot 8-19 as a team from deep, 19-26 from the free throw line, 6 steals and only 6 turnovers, none in the second half.
Portland let down LaMarcus Aldridge again, still posting good numbers against the Mavs and getting Tyson Chandler in early foul trouble with 24 Pts, 10 Reb and 3 Blk. Andre Miller still lead the charge with 18 Pts, 6 Reb, 8 Ast and 2-2 from three (!). Gerald Wallace had a much better outing than he did in Game 1 with 18 Pts, 7 Reb, 6 Ast on 6-11 shooting. Wesley Matthews looked better early but disappeared after halftime only is 13 Pts is worth mentioning. Nic Batum was the only bench player with any amounts of points, leading the bench by himself with 10 Pts and 2-5 from three. Marcus Camby was held to just 8 Reb but hit a tough fadaway three with one second left on the shot clock in the third. The only thing Portland did improve on was their three-point shooting at 7-14 and outscored Dallas 14-8 on the fast break, but those the only good things.
WHO WAS NOT
Portland’s bench: atrocious, ghastly, unspeakable, appalling, I could go on thanks to my Thesaurus. 0 Pts and 1 turnover from Brandon Roy, 1 Pt, 3 Reb, 1 Ast and 1 Stl for Rudy Fernandez. 0 Pts and 1 turnover from Patty Mills. Was Roy supposed to be some kind of x-factor for this series? Portland wanted to improve their free throws, they got to the line enough times but just could not make them: 18-27 from the line is not good for a team that shoot 80% in the season. It was very troubling to watch the Blazers struggle so much in the fourth, everyone looked lost and had no idea who wanted to score while the exact opposite was going on for the other team.
Can Portland dig themselves out of this 0-2 hole? I’m starting to be concerned here Rip City. To see the Blazers stand around looking at each other dazed and confused while Nowitzki did whatever he wanted to didn’t look too promising. Can the Rose Garden crowd be loud enough to push Portland back into this series? I sure hope so. Little to hold on to right now. The Blazers will sit and think about what they just witnessed on the four-hour plane ride back home, get another day to ponder and, will meet up with Dirk and Jason Kidd again for the third time on Thursday. Get loud Portland, we need it bad.
photo courtesy of nba.com/blazers