Trail Blazers vs Mavericks Tuesday, 01/29/13 AT 07:00PM

Second Half Run, Aldridge Game-Winner Save Trail Blazers

01/30/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    The Trail Blazers were down by as much as 21 points to the Mavericks who could not be stopped in the early going as they scored 32 first quarter points. However, a 32-point quarter of their own made it a game again. LaMarcus Aldridge (29 points, 13 rebounds) scored the final five points including the game-winning fadeaway jumper win the game 106-104.

    "I can't get tired of appreciating what our team does as far as competing and fighting and never giving up," said Terry Stotts. "We've all seen it a number of times already this year but it never gets old."

    It was a same old story again for the Trail Blazers at the beginning, but worse than normal. The Trail Blazers gave up a ton of points at the beginning of the game. Dallas was doing anything they wanted and Portland had nothing going towards the basket in the second quarter when things started to get out of hand. They went into the half down by 17 points after an Aldridge shot that would have made it 15 was ruled no good as a replay showed the ball left his hand late.

    The Mavs would start the second half off well, getting their lead up to 21. It was clear what Rick Carlisle's game plan was, to take away Nic Batum (10 points, six assists), who was struggling after re-injuring his right wrist in the first half, and Damian Lillard (10 points, eight assists), forcing Portland's other scorers to carry the load. JJ Hickson was hot from the get-go as he ended up with 26 points and 15 rebounds on just 13 shots. Aldridge was going to work as well. Both players had over 20 points and 10 rebounds before the fourth quarter. However, Stotts had to go to the bench for help in the second half.

    With the deficit at 19 with 5:42 left in the third quarter, Stotts called on Luke Babbitt, who hadn't played in the game yet, to come in and spread the floor as he often does when the Trail Blazers face large deficits. Babbitt (three points) would only hit one three-pointer on the night but his presence on the floor helped create space for Portland to operate and they turned up the defensive intensity against the Mavericks, forcing them into tougher shots. Then Stotts turned to Sasha Pavlovic (four points), who had missed the past five games due to injury. The ball moved well and found the shooters and Portland's defense was much better. In addition to the contributions of Babbitt and Pavlovic, Ronnie Price (5 points) hit a big three down the stretch and a Pavlovic fast-break dunk tied the game at 88 all with 7:26 left in the game.

    Both teams continued to trade body blows in the final seven minutes, with neither team mustering enough for the knockout. It was absolute madhouse in the Rose Garden as the emotions went from jubilation to that "oh darn," feeling of just coming up short. The Mavs got their lead up to seven after Brandan Wright hit a hook shot in the lane with 2:19 left. The final two minutes was a back and forth of epic proportions with Portland's All-Star shining brightest at the end.

    Aldridge would hit two foul shots to cut the lead to five followed by a big steal by Wesley Matthews (17 points, four steals) that led to Batum getting two free throws he would miss. Matthews got another steal and elected not to pass the ball, getting to the line to hit his two free-throws. Portland was able to slow the game down and get back in it at the line. Portland got another stop as Dirk Nowitzki missed a tough 20-footer and Damian Lillard found Batum for a three-pointer off a screen, as he atoned for his misses at the charity stripe. Although Portland has had their share of crazy comebacks, what ensued in the final 28.9 seconds is up there with the craziest.

    Dirk Nowitzki (26 points) hit what looked to be a dagger three-pointer on a broken play with 11.9 second left. But Aldridge matched Nowitzki's three with a step-back corner three of his own. His first three since April of 2011 and he wasn't surprised it went in.

    "It felt good so no. I was surprised that Nic threw it to me, yes. That I made it, no," Aldridge said.

    The Mavericks had a chance to win it but Price, who was inserted for defensive purposes, stepped in front of OJ Mayo on his attempt to get a basket at the rim and drew the charge giving Portland 1.5 second to get a game-winning shot with the game tied at 104.

    For the final look, Stotts went to a play similar to the one he used on Nicolas Batum's game-winning three against Cleveland. The Mavs took away the option to go to Batum so Matthews threw the ball to Aldridge in the post. Good night, Dallas.

    "This is what you live for,"Aldridge said after the game about game-winning moments.

    Aldridge was jovial after the game and his teammates may have been just as happy.

    "He was smiling like a rookie, like his first NBA game," Batum said. "He was happy, but it was a big shot by LA. We needed those two shots-they show people that he really is an All-Star. He is an All-Star. He is a go-to guy, he's one of the best."

    Not only was it big for Aldridge, but the win was also big in the playoff race as Dallas is one of the teams in the hunt for the final two playoff spots with the Trail Blazers.

    "Big win, big win. I knew these six games coming war going to be against good teams, five for playoff spots like Dallas, Minnesota and Utah, so this game was huge for us," Batum said.

    Listen to Wheels' incredible radio call of the final moments: Aldridge's three for the tie and Aldridge's game-winner.

    The Trail Blazers are off until Friday when they face the Utah Jazz (24-21) in the first game of a back-to-back with them. That game will tip-off at 7PM and will be shown on CSNNW and can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.



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