Blazers face series elimination in 93-82 Game 5 loss in Dallas
You remember Games 1, 2, 3 and 4 right? Portland get the early lead, either by LaMarcus Aldridge, or Wesley Matthews or Gerald Wallace and by halftime they look to have some control and are either up or down by no more than two points. Remember the third/early fourth quarter of Game 4? The second half of Game 5 tonight was a scary resemblance of the cold shooting spell that has plagued this Portland team this entire series with Brandon Roy nowhere to be found, no one else was found. The Blazers jump out to an early eight point in the first and lead by five. They withstand multiple Dallas Maverick runs and go into the locker room thankful to be down one. After that, they flopped all over the court, losing in what was an important game changing match as Portland continue to play lousy basketball on the road, losing 93-82 (not as close as you might think). Dallas now not only take a 3-2 lead in this series but they have the chance to wipe out the Blazers on Thursday in Portland and end their season, just like what Phoenix did last year. It was another game where Andre Miller was the only player looking to load the offense while everyone struggled on all ends of the floor, while Dirk Nowitzki heads to the foul line every time he touches the ball and cries foul. Dallas muscle their way through Blazer “defensive” and Tyson Chandler is allowed 20 rebounds, 13 of those offensive ones. The Blazers head back to make one final stand at the Rose Garden and hopefully extend their season longer to force a Game 7.
“Crash” Wallace who has been quiet this entire series and was one of our most important weapons, gets the memo that he needs to start getting things going. Six early points and he’s looking good, attacking the rim with his strength and daring Nowitzki to guard him out of the paint and shooting over him. Too much aggressiveness however and he’s hit with two fouls. Oh well it was good while it lasted. Shame too, cause both Portland and Dallas were 1-6 from the floor until Wallace found his shot. The Mavs were not getting the ball to Nowitzki or Kidd but Chandler of all people who was in foul trouble this entire series. Portland simply do not get on him in the paint and he goes toe to toe with Wallace posting seven points with along with seven rebounds and everything is tied at 10 midway through. Things get shaky for both teams as they turned the ball over and gave each other the chance to bust the door wide open, and Portland got the message late into the quarter. Roy walks onto the court and expectations of what he did in Game 4 look true as he drives inside the paint and allows the defense to collapse all around him, while he kicks it out to an open three from Rudy Fernandez or finding Marcus Camby for the jam. The Blazers take a five point lead on back to back Dallas turnovers from the hands of Nic Batum and some rebounding from Chris Johnson, whose size and length surely bothered guys like JJ Barea. An 8-0 Blazer run caps a five point lead after one up 20-15 and hold the Mavs to 6-16 shooting from the floor and making them turn the ball over seven times. With Portland riding on the success of their unusual big lineup of Roy, Batum, Camby, Johnson and Aldridge seems to click and when they start going small and bringing guys like Fernandez and Miller back in, Dallas go back to simply dominate the boards and getting Nowitzki to the foul line. Fouls on Wallace, Miller, Batum and Roy all but ruin what was a golden opportunity for Portland to run with their lead. Jason Terry comes off the bench and just like he always does he manages quick points to tie the game at 27 and fuel a 14-4 Mavs run. They build on threes by Terry and Stojakovic and by golly the Mavs are up and the crowd is wild. Portland don’t push the panic button just yet as they put the ball in Miller’s hand and he gets the Blazers back in the lead and all the way to six from a Batum three and Wallace stealing and fast breaking the lay up. The refs realize that the Blazers are ahead again and start calling more fouls on everybody; 12 Portland fouls compared to 3 by Dallas. What does that do? Send Nowitzki to the line and a 7-0 run end the half fueled by lazy Blazer turnovers and not hitting jump shots, while stop attacking the rim all together. Dallas feel they should be up higher and lead 44-43 and will get their wish soon enough.
Just like all the other games in this series in Dallas, Portland hang around for just a little while but questionable calls from the refs favoring Nowitzki and send him to the foul line once again. Portland were thankful to be down two, but it was getting worse at the game went on, down by seven, eight, nine and suddenly it’s a ten point game once again. Could Portland stage another remarkable comeback like Game 4? As Portland fought the shot clock on every possession, the Mavs got to the foul line. Every time a Blazer drove inside the paint, play continues and when Nowitzki drives inside, there’s a whistle. Roy is shoved at half-court by Shawn Marion and nothing is called. Camby gets his fourth foul on what was called a loose ball foul but he was just simply rebounding the ball. The lead is now 15 riding a 12-5 run and head into the fourth up 75-63. The Blazers start just like they did back in Portland shooting 1-15 from the field and getting no good open looks and fighting the shot clock to end up chucking the ball at the backboard. Dallas go up by 20 on a 33-14 run, Portland don’t do anything about it, yada yada yada, blah blah blah. Portland is down 3-2 in the series and are risking the remainder of their season on one game on Thursday.
WHO WAS HOT
Dallas owned this game from all angles and they deserve a lot of credit for all the harsh criticism they’ve taken for blowing Game 4. You know the drill by now: Dirk Nowitzki single handily seized the third quarter and ends with 25 Pts, 8 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl and 9-11 free throw shooting. Tyson Chandler surprisingly was the offensive threat in the first quarter, he collects an impressive 14 Pts, 20 Rebs with 13 offensive rebounds with 8-12 at the foul line. Jason Terry follows closely with 20 pts, and Shawn Marion continues to improve his presence in this series with 14 Pts, 4 Reb, 3 Ast and 4 Stl.
Get this: Dallas get to the foul line and bank 26-35. Portland? At the half they were 0-1 and end the game 14-19. Something is seriously wrong with that statistic. It was to the point where Nowitzki got to the foul line three straight times during the third and every time he cried he was granted with foul shots. Another disturbing stat? The Mavs out-rebound 49-37 total, 20 against 9 on offensive. All those offensive ones equal more chances at points in the paint; talk about 40 points in the paint alone and 17 second chance points to Portland’s 8. Their defense was simply amazing tonight as they held Portland to 82 points and clogged the paint like it was nobody’s business being there.
No one on Portland was really “hot” tonight, they had so much promise in the first and then it was like they said “forget it” and sat on their hands the rest of the way. Andre Miller leads the team with 18 Pts, 7 Ast and 1-1 from three again. Gerald Wallace’s foul trouble early kept him from really doing any real damage and he finishes with 16 Pts, 9 Reb, 2 Stl and 2 Blk. Wasn’t Nic Batum’s fault that he had to come in earlier when Wallace got two foul; I say he was still productive on the defensive end, leading the bench with 12 Pts, 4 Reb, 2 Stl and 2 Blk. They lost in every other category expect blocks so you know it bad.
WHO WAS NOT
LaMarcus Aldridge with 12 Pts isn’t going to win you games. Shooting 43% and 1-15 shooting in fourth won’t win you games. Neither will going 4-16 from three, 14-19 from the free throw line, 12 total turnovers, scoring only 82 points and Brandon Roy with 5 Pts. Rudy Fernandez is shooting 18% in this series and has one three the entire game.
It was finally time for Jason Kidd to slide back into his game of not scoring. He does dime out 14 assists but was 0-5 from three. Dallas didn’t rely on the three as a team and shot 17% the entire game including Peja Stojakovic and Terry were off, shocking and they still won.
History is not on our side. Teams who win Game 5 in a series tied 2-2, go on to win and advance 85% of the time. Teams who won Game 1 at home win the series 78%. The Rose Garden needs to be louder than it was on Saturday. It has to be. It’s do or die time. Dallas is now looking for the final dagger. We need to fight back and fight hard. Don’t let Game 6 be Portland’s last game of the season. Go out there, and force Game 7. It’s not over till the fat lady sings.
photos courtesy of nba.com/blazers