PORTLAND, Ore. -- The bright spots were few and far between Sunday night for the Mavs, but one of them stood 7 feet tall and weighed 263 pounds.
Haywood, who has appeared disinterested way too often as a backup, had five points and 11 rebounds in 23 minutes. More importantly, he did a respectable job defending Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge.
Aldridge, a Seagoville product who has developed into a star this season, had averaged 31 points in the previous three meetings against the Mavs. He finished with 18 on 9-of-17 shooting Sunday, scoring 10 of those points in the first quarter.
“That’s the best we’ve played [Aldridge] all year,” Shawn Marion said. “We split with them 2-2, and I think [Haywood] did the best job we’ve seen on him this year. If you take away his easy buckets, he made him work for every shot. That’s a good thing.”
Added coach Rick Carlisle: “I thought Haywood did a good job. He battled Aldridge. He rebounded well, used his length well. I was very pleased with how he played.”
Haywood’s primary goal was to prevent Aldridge from using his go-to move.
“He’s very, very good with that left shoulder and right hand, so you basically try to take that away and force him into other shots,” Haywood said. “If he hits those, congratulations. I try to take away his left shoulder and right hand, because he’s almost unstoppable if you let him go in that direction.”
Haywood said he thought he played “all right,” but could have been better. He was at least adequate.
The Mavs will need that kind of effort from Haywood off the bench on a consistent basis if they meet Portland in the playoffs.