The Portland Trail Blazers beat the Mavericks 97-92 on Thursday and now only trail the Mavericks 2-1 in their first round playoff series. They used a balanced scoring attack and renewed defensive effort to take the Mavericks out of rhythm, and are now just one more home win away from taking this series back to Dallas tied up at 2.
Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki led the way for the Mavericks with 29 and 25 points respectively. Terry was extremely efficient, shooting 10-13 from the field, but Nowitzki wasn't quite as sharp as we have come to expect, shooting just 10-21 from the field and an uncharacteristic 4-7 from the free throw line. But according to our Mavericks site Mavs Money Ball, Nowitzki thinks the Mavs have a good shot to get some momentum back in this series.
"We feel like we took their best blow and we were right there, so we get another opportunity Saturday. Obviously, we don't want to go home with a tied series, so we gotta come out and really go for it on Saturday, leave it all out there like we did tonight. They wanted it more. Sadly, it's gonna be a street fight, and let's see who wants it more on Saturday."
One of the big issues in the game was that the Mavericks main inside presence Tyson Chandler was limited to just 15 minutes before fouling out of the game. He registered just two points and four rebounds.
"I’m not going to go there. I think everyone who watched the game can make their own assessment of it." Chandler said, "Obviously, I was frustrated because I was on the sideline because of it. To be honest, a lot of my fouls, I don't even know if I got one on-the-ball foul as far as making a defensive effort. I might have gotten one, and the other five, I don't know how to avoid them."
This loss to the Blazer might not doom the Mavericks in this series, but it could raise a bigger question about the state of the Mavericks team. During this current era of Mavericks basketball, they haven't shown the ability to win tough games on the road. According to Bob Sturm of Sports Day DFW, the Mavericks are now just 2-17 in their last 19 road playoff games.Yikes.
But there is one element of the Mavericks home-court environment that follows them on the road, and that's owner Mark Cuban; who brings his courtside sideshow with him wherever the Mavericks play. According to ESPN, Cuban was struck in the face by a projectile. We're not quite sure what it was, but it didn't stop Cuban from putting his hand up to his ear to encourage the crowd to continue booing him. That's the Cubes we know and love.
The Mavericks will have a chance to put their foot back on the gas pedal on Saturday, with an afternoon tilt in Portland.