The Mavericks finished strong by winning their last four, but the Lakers managed to hang on in overtime against a spunky Kings team and keep the second seed in the West. The Lakers led the game 88-70 after three quarters but gave up the lead on the strength of a 29-11 fourth quarter by Sacramento.
Dallas now faces the specter of a first round showdown with the Portland Trailblazers, a matchup that was very tight during the regular season. The teams met four times during the regular season, with the home team winning every game:
December 15 in Dallas: Mavs 103, Blazers 98
January 4 in Dallas: Mavs 84, Blazers 81
March 15 in Portland: Blazers 104, Mavs 101
April 3 in Portland: Blazers 104, Mavs 96
Caron Butler led Dallas with 23 points and seven boards in their December win, but Butler will not be available for the series as he recovers from a knee injury. The Mavericks’ second win featured a Roy-less Blazers lineup and a Nowitzki-less Mavs lineup. Dallas received a boost from four Deshawn Stevenson three-pointers.
LaMarcus Aldridge terrorized the Mavericks in the season series, averaging 27.8 points on 52% shooting. The Blazers won the March matchup despite 60% Dallas shooting by turning the ball over eight fewer times and collecting nine more offensive rebounds. Portland’s win in the season series finale in April featured six Blazers – Andre Miller, Gerald Wallace, Wesley Matthews, Rudy Fernandez, Nicolas Batum and Aldridge – in double figures.
Two weeks after the Mavericks’ January win over the Blazers, Dallas defeated the Lakers. That was their last win against a West playoff team until Wednesday night’s blow 121-89 victory over the Hornets.
The NBA is expected to announce the 2011 NBA Western Conference playoff schedule Thursday morning.