Trail Blazers vs Mavericks Sunday, 04/03/11 AT 06:00PM

Trail Blazers Start Strong and Stay Strong

04/03/11
  1. Written by: ShalamarClark  / avg. rating: 4.5

    The Portland Trail Blazers extended their home streak to eight and moved one game away from clinching a playoff spot after Sunday’s 104-96 victory over the Dallas Mavericks at the Rose Garden.

    The Trail Blazers (45-32) went into Sunday’s matchup needing a win over the Mavericks (53-24) and a Houston loss to Atlanta to grab a playoff berth, but got one of the two.

    Gerald Wallace led Portland with 19 points, eight rebounds, thee assists and three steals as the Trail Blazers shot 61 percent from the field in the first two quarters and finished with a 53-percent mark to end the series split 2-2.

    “I thought we made [Dallas] work,” said Trail Blazers’ Head Coach Nate McMillan. “The execution on the offensive end of the floor was really good, recognizing the matchups and going to them right away.”

    LaMarcus Aldridge got off to a quick start, scoring 10 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the first quarter to finish with 18 points and eight rebounds.

    “Guys are playing really well right now,” said Aldridge. “I think we’re all finding a good rhythm late in the season, which is always good right now.”

    Four other Trail Blazer players got in rhythm to double-digit points–Wesley Matthews (16), Nicolas Batum (15), Rudy Fernandez (11) and Andre Miller (10).

    Fernandez gave Portland a spark in the third quarter after deflecting Marion’s pass and leaping out of bounds to save the ball to Wallace for the 81-65 margin. 

    Fans chanted “Rudy,” as he beat his defender on the baseline to throw down a dunk to return to a 20-point margin after the Mavericks’ 11-1 run cut the lead 76-65. Portland went into the fourth quarter with a commanding 85-67 advantage. 

    “We’re not going to make excuses,” said Mavericks’ Head Coach Rick Carlisle of his team’s three-game dip. “Our first half was poor…we know that. We battled back in the second half, but they were better tonight.”

    Shawn Marion led Dallas with 19 points and five rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Portland’s 20-point lead, 74-54, in the third quarter with back-to-back jump shots from Miller.

    The Mavericks missed eight of their first 11 shots to open the third as the Trail Blazers went on a 13-8 run for the large gap.

    “What we want to do is attack, attack, attack,” said McMillan. “We made good decisions with our matchups. When we had matchups with the double team committed, we did a good job spacing and moving the ball. And when the double team did not come, we did a good job attacking and getting to the free-throw line.” 

    Rodrigue Beaubois had 18 points, Dirk Nowitzki had 16 points and five rebounds, and Jose Barea added 12 points off the bench for Dallas, which shot 48 percent from the floor. Barea kept the Mavericks close in the second quarter with 10 points before the Trail Blazers finished the half on a 17-7 run for a 61-46 lead.

    “I thought we came out from the beginning and we set the tone early defensively,” said Aldridge. “Offensively, we pushed the ball, went to the basket, and guys made shots.”

    Portland won the points in the paint battle 50-38, while completing 21-of-25 free-throw attempts. Defensively, the Trail Blazers picked away five more steals, 10-5, than the Mavericks.

    Brendan Haywood had a game-high 11 rebounds for Dallas and added five points.

    Portland move one step closer to seal a playoff trip, but when asked about future contention in the postseason McMillan responded, “We’re thinking about Golden State on Tuesday.” 

    The Trail Blazers will go for their ninth straight win at the Rose Garden on Tuesday, when they take on the Golden State Warriors (33-44). Tipoff is scheduled for 7 PM.

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