Portland survive late rally to beat Dallas 97-92 from hot hands of Matthews, Aldridge and Roy
Home sweet home! Like it has been all season long, the home team has won all the meeting and it was the same here. After the Portland Trail Blazers sunk to 0-2 in Dallas getting smacked to the ground from Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd, the Blazers jump to an early lead in the opening seconds led by Wesley Matthews and a much-needed boost from the Rose Garden crowd. It wasn’t an easy victory mind you as the Mavericks took a five point lead at multiple times throughout but key shots from every Blazer and a suddenly active Brandon Roy push Portland back into this series and now trail 2-1. It was only a matter of time until Jason Terry got hot and was on fire for most of the game. The game got scary in the fourth when after the Blazers built an 11 point lead, the Mavs and Nowitzki go to work and use their fourth quarter magic to cut the lead to three from a Kidd three. Andre Miller ices the game away with clutch free throws and the Blazers win their first postseason game of the season.
The third time in this series, the Blazers grabbed ahold of an early lead, and what a start. Wesley Matthews was leading the charge and bringing the roaring Rose Garden crowd to their feet with 3 straight three pointers to put Portland up 10-2. The Blazers were active early going for the steals, blocks, hitting the open man and finding Matthews behind the line on 4-6 shooting from the floor. He single handily creates two turnovers and hits from deep again with 14 early points. Dallas stays very calm and suddenly they hit five straight points from who else but Nowitzki and Kidd and cut the lead to four. Tyson Chandler picks up two quick fouls trying to contain LaMarcus Aldridge but once Jason Terry hit the floor, the Mavs went on a roll. The pick and roll mind you. Every single Dallas possession started with a single or double pick and roll play and found Nowitzki open on the corner for the open jumper and Terry free behind the line. Brandon Roy enters the game and it’s unknown if his comments to see more playing time would pay off. He comes in to run the point and the offense staggered a bit until he fits a fadaway jump shot to end the quarter; Portland up 28-23 after one. The Mavs came back down to two after Peja Stojakovic hits his favorite corner three and another three by Terry give Dallas the lead and go up by five. Matthews enters the game and fuels a 13-4 run who collects 20 points before halftime and finding Roy open for a three at the top of the key. Both clubs are shooting 60% from the field and the Mavs come right back down 48-47. Portland head to the locker room again up by two 54-52.
Marcus Camby who was dominate the first half in the paint was hit with a huge foul that gave him his fourth and sent to the bench as Nowitzki tripped over his foot and somehow was fouling. This sent Chris Johnson to the floor and what he did in six minutes was remarkable like Camby was still in the game. However the Mavs would hit five more points to take 57-54 lead as Portland began the quarter shooting 0-3 makes. The lead changes go back and forth as Miller hits his third three of the postseason and Nowitzki answers right back with his awkward fading jumper. The third was all Roy as he brought out some old moves and looked great with his classic hesitation move on Terry and a killer crossover on Stojakovic to cut to the basket. Both clubs still trade leads and the Blazers end on a 9-3 run to go up 75-72 after three. You would notice by now that Gerald Wallace and Nic Batum hadn’t score anything all game long. They were mainly there defending but both got into the groove of things in the fourth as they got their first field goals, Batum connects for a key three pointer to push a 16-5 Blazer run to lead by eight. Wallace adds the punch with his own three to give Portland a double-digit lead and the game seems out of reach for now. Nowitzki and Kidd combine for five quick points yet again and the Portland lead is six on a 7-0 Dallas run. Portland add insult to injury as they start getting into serious foul trouble and sending Nowitzki to the line. Suddenly it’s a five point game, and the Blazers loose Kidd on transition for him to hit a wide open three to cut things to two. Miller is sent to the foul line, Kidd airballs another three and the game is over.
WHO WAS HOT
Let’s hope that Wesley Matthews continues to get hotter as this series progresses: 25 Pts, 3 Ast, 2 Stl on 4-6 from downtown. He opened the first quarter hitting all his bombs and didn’t hit again. Because of his hot hand, it propelled Portland to an 10-2 lead into the first. His defense on Kidd was pretty effective as well and it’s worth mentioning his four three pointers tied for most threes in Portland during the postseason. LaMarcus Aldridge, again with a reasonable performance with 20 Pts, 4 Reb, 1 Stl, 1 Blk and kept his ground against Nowitzki. Andre Miller steered the ship all night long with 16 Pts, 7 Ast and another three pointer along with icing two free throws at the end. Gerald Wallace and Nic Batum didn’t hit their first field goal until the fourth but both hit clutch threes to put Portland up midway through. They both post 7 Pts with Wallace grabbing 11 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl and 1 Blk. Portland shoot around 50% for much of the game, shoot 8-14 from three which is their best so far this postseason, improve foul shooting 17-21, and tie with Dallas on much of everything in rebounding and assist. Portland keep ahold of the ball and lose it only 9 compared to 16 by Dallas and block 6 shots.
The story of the game here was the play of Brandon Roy and will be talked about until the next game. He got some frustration out from his comments yesterday and looked ready, alert and active tonight, leading the bench with 16 Pts, 4 Ast, 1 Stl and 6-10 shooting. He looks more comfortable at his natural two guard spot while letting Miller control the point. Roy is not a point guard at heart and is too slow to keep up with Terry but his flow and shooting stroke looked great. And I would like to say what a great six minutes Chris Johnson had as a Blazer. After Marcus Camby gets hit with his fourth foul in the second half, Johnson sparked some great defense and can JUMP. He has 3 Reb and 2 Blk that doesn’t look to interesting on paper but his presence was felt.
It was about time that Jason Terry had an impact in this series that we thought he would have. He comes off the bench with 29 Pts, 7 Ast and 5-7 from deep. Dirk Nowitzki was Dirk once again but his fourth quarter antics came late; 25 Pts, 9 Reb but was off from the free throw for him at 4-7. Jason Kidd was finally kept to under 10 points this time with 8 Pts, 6 Reb, 3 Ast and 2 Stl. Dallas hang around with the Blazers shooting 51% from the floor but tie with Portland in everything else.
WHO WAS NOT
Tyson Chandler fouled out again for the second time this postseason. And Mark Cuban talking smack to some fans in the stand was annoying to see. Look up annoying in the dictionary and there is his picture. Dallas turn the ball over 16 times, 6 in the first quarter compared to 0 by Portland.
Whew, finally good to make some noise in this series even when we’re down a game. Remember we’re back for Game 4 at the Rose Garden again and if the crowd was loud it’ll be blistering on Saturday. I still see Portland winning this series, the longer this goes on for the better for us as our big men and depth can catch up with Dallas, I don’t believe Kidd and Peja Stojakovic will be hot like they were in the first two and if Chandler and Haywood aren’t contributing then we have a good chance to go 2-2 back to Dallas.
photos courtesy of nba.com/blazers