Trail Blazers vs Mavericks Thursday, 04/21/11 AT 07:30PM

Nowitzki, Bench Lift Mavs Over Trail Blazers

  1. Written by: Grant Lucas  / avg. rating: 3.0

    Fueled by Dirk Nowitzki's 14 fourth-quarter points, the Dallas Mavericks (2-0) pulled away and put away the Portland Trail Blazers (0-2) 101-89 in Game 2 of the NBA Playoffs on Tuesday night. With the win, Dallas goes up 2-0 in the best-of-seven first-round matchup.

    "We couldn't execute down the stretch, and we've got to do a better job of taking care of the ball," Gerald Wallace said. "We're getting unforced turnovers at crucial points of the game which is giving them momentum, and we've got to guard the ball better and keep them off the free throw line."

    The Mavericks used their bench production to attain and build on their late lead, as Dallas' reserves outscored Portland's bench 39-11, including a 19-0 margin in the second half, all while the Mavericks hit eight of their 19 three-point attempts. In that second half, Dallas outscored the Trail Blazers 51-37.

    "Our bench hasn't been able to score," Head Coach Nate McMillan said. "Tonight we wanted to get Patty [Mills] in to get another ball handler in there. They had been pressuring Brandon [Roy] and Rudy [Fernandez] bringing the ball up the floor. We tried to get Patty in to get us a flow. Our first unit was playing well so I ended up going back to those guys subbing pretty quickly to get them in tonight."

    LaMarcus Alridge led Portland with 24 points and 10 rebounds, while Wallace chipped in with 18 points, seven boards and six assists. Andre Miller had 18 points and six assists, Wesley Matthews tallied 13 points, and Nicolas Batum put up 10 points off the bench.

    "[It's] disappointing," Miller said. "We're playing our butts off. [They] had some guys that stepped in; Stojakovic hit some three's. Dirk played his game and got to the free throw line. Tough game for both teams, they just made the shots when it counted."

    Nowitzki paced Dallas with a game-high 33 points and seven boards, notching 14 of those in the final quarter. Jason Kidd notched 18 points and eight assists, but it was the Maverick bench that did a lot of the damage. Peja Stojakovic posted 21 points on 5-for-10 shooting from three-point range, while Jason Terry added 10 points of his own.

    "Look, he's a great player, and he's been aggressive, and we're obviously looking for him," Dallas Head Coach Rick Carlisle said of Nowitzki. "When he gets the ball, he's going to make something happen. He's either going to be aggressive to score, or if he gets double-teamed he will make the pass out. Balance is so important to our team, we had a really good balance before we really started going to him exclusively and I think that helped us."

    Portland shot 51.3 percent from the field in the first half but cooled off in the final two quarters, hitting 44.4 percent of its shots. Dallas, on the other hand, turned it on at the intermission, shooting 52.8 percent from the floor in the second half after putting up a 45-percent mark before the break.

    Not only that, but Dallas turned up the pressure on defense, forcing nine second-half turnovers by the Trail Blazers that resulted in 10 Maverick points, all while not giving the ball up one time after the half.

    Wallace accounted for nine of Portland's first 17 points, as the Trail Blazers used his production to jump out to a 17-9 advantage midway through the first quarter, their largest lead the entire series.

    Dallas strung together a 10-2 run late in the period, however, to even things up at 19 before Aldridge canned a fallaway jumper on the baseline.

    Kidd gave the Mavericks their first lead of the game when he connected on a three-point play. Nowitzki added another three-point play on the next possession to give Dallas a 44-42 edge with less than four minutes to go in the half.

    Portland responded with 10-2 run to regain control and take a 52-50 lead into the locker room thanks to 37 combined points from Aldridge, Wallace and Batum.

    Kidd provided a spark for Dallas out of the break, tallying the Mavericks' first nine points of the second half to put his team up 59-55. With help from a 9-2 rally, Dallas went ahead by seven points before Aldridge buried a long jumper to snap Portland's drought.

    Thanks to seven points by Miller, the Trail Blazers chipped away at the Maverick advantage with an 11-5 run, cutting the deficit to one point with less than two minutes to go in the third. Dallas built its lead to eight points midway through the fourth with a three-pointer by Stojakovic, as the Mavericks outscored Portland 15-8 to open the frame.

    While the Trail Blazers struggled to find the bottom of the net, Nowitzki helped the Mavericks seal the win, tallying the last 11 Dallas points of the game en route to the victory.

    "It's tough when you don't know how to guard him," Wallace said of Nowitzki. "He has an arsenal of tactics down there as far as getting to the basket and getting his shot off... It's tough when he's making shots and he's getting to the free throw line. Either or, but you can't give up both of them."

    This first-round series will head to the Rose Garden on Thursday night for Game 3 between the Trail Blazers and Mavericks.

    "Yeah, we've got a chance to go back and regroup and we've got two games on our home court," Wallace said. "We've just got to take advantage like they did down here. We've got to win the two on our home court and get this thing back to an even ballgame."

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