The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Dallas Mavericks 97-92 on Thursday night.
It was a raucous crowd from the start that ignited the Blazers. The Blazers went on a 10-2 run to start the game and, while the Mavericks were able to recover, the confidence they gained in the first quarter helped close out the Mavericks in the fourth.
Wesley Matthews was the player to watch heading into this series and he showed why on Thursday night. Matthews erupted for 25 points on 8/13 shooting, including 4 threes. The Blazers need a second scorer to step up if they are going to beat the Mavericks and Matthews has to be that guy.
It was a tumultuous couple of days for Brandon Roy, complaining about his lack of playing time and on the brink of tears in game two. He responded on Thursday by scoring 16 points on 6/10 shooting. Roy's best game since scoring 21 points last month in Portland... against the Dallas Mavericks.
After struggling through the first two games of the series, it was Jason Terry that provided the much needed spark for the Mavericks. Terry has an outstanding game, scoring 29 points on 10/13 shooting including 5 threes and seven assists. When his shot is falling, he's one of the toughest covers in the league. Hopefully, he stays hot in game four.
Brendan Haywood had to step up for the Mavericks with Tyson Chandler in foul trouble and he did just that. Haywood was effective in limitng Aldridge to 9/21 shooting, his worst shooting performance this series, and that was certainly nice to see. And while it was a valiant effort by Haywood, the Mavericks need Chandler on the floor to win this series. While many of the fouls were iffy, you can not foul out with nearly an entire quarter to play. Chandler knows that the timing issue on picks will have to be corrected going into game four.
Rick Carlisle has had an excellent series through the first two games, that ended in game three. Carlisle went with a starting lineup of Barea, Terry, Stojakovic, Marion and Nowitzki in a critical stretch during the end of the third quarter into the fourth. During that time, the Blazers stretched their lead to nine and it was all but over. Carlisle tried to rest Kidd for as long as possible and it backfired. Also, Barea was absolutely abused by Andre Miller in the post during the fourth quarter. Barea could be effective in spurts in this series, just not in the fourth quarter. Even though Stevenson was on the bench for most of the game, I would have liked to see him in the game during crunch time. His size would've helped even up the size advantage of the Blazers and he could've helped get the Mavericks some stops late in the game.
If you limit turnovers and make your free throws, you usually win on the road. So it should come as no surprise that the Mavericks did neither of these things in this loss.The Mavericks went 13/23 from the line. Uncharacteristically poor. Even Dirk Nowitzki, an 89% free throw shooter, missed three free throws. And of course, Haywood's free throw woes continued. After not committing a turnover in the second half of game two, the Mavericks had 16 in game three. Jason Kidd was the major culprit, committing five turnovers. Many will point to Kidd's short rest between games two an three, but I don't think that had anything to do with it. The turnovers were a product of what the Blazers did (mainly scrap) than tired legs on Kidd's part. On the other hand, tired legs will definitely be a concern with the short turnaround before game four.
Game four is Saturday afternoon at 4:00pm.