Crushing defeat leaves Mavs stunned
April, 23, 2011
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Owner Mark Cuban blew by the Dallas Mavericks' locker room and out of sight with nothing to say.
Assistant coach Monte Mathis was one of the first to walk out out, his face motionless and seemingly in a state of cold disbelief. Assistant coach Darrell Armstrong, a member of the 2006 Dallas Mavericks team that lost a 2-0 lead and the NBA Finals to the Miami Heat, stood as still as statue inside a small hallway at the entrance to the locker room, his head tilted down, his eyes piercing the floor.
Mavs center Tyson Chandler sat by his locker, his large hands holding his head. When he looked up his eyes were bloodshot.
Jason Kidd sat at his locker with both knees tightly wrapped with ice bags and both feet soaking in a bucket of ice water. He initially turned down questions to allow himself time to regroup.
Dirk Nowitzki, always one of the last out of the showers, quietly got dressed in a silent locker room interrupted only by Blazers locker room attendants clearing the place out. As he was slipping on his cuff links he slowly sat down and, exasperated, uttered an expletive. As he left he looked back at the attendants and said, "See you Thursday," for Game 6.
This Mavs have felt playoff pain before. But, Saturday's 84-82 defeat in Game 4 to the Portland Trail Blazers in which Dallas blew a 23-point lead, a 67-44 cushion with 1:16 to play in the third quarter -- Portland's largest postseason comeback in frachise history -- was a severe body blow that this team now must make sure doesn't go down as a TKO.
What looked like a certain victory and a commanding 3-1 lead is now a tied series, 2-2, and another implausible chapter in Mavs postseason history.
"We just couldn't get any stops. That's what the thing came down to," Nowitzki said. "It's on us. Really starting at the end of the third we had a 20-point lead and they had a couple of layups there. We didn't run back in transition. Just gradually we couldn't get any stops."
Brandon Roy, who played a significant role in Portland's Game 3 victory, scored 18 points in the fourth quarter and 21 of his 24 in the final 12:02 of the game. He scored Portland's final eight points, including a four-point play with a 3-pointer and a foul with 1:06 to go. He put the Blazers ahead with running bank in the lane with 39.2 to go.
He finally missed with 3.9 seconds, a 3-pointer that fell to Jason Kidd, who pushed it ahead to Jason Terry, who couldn't get the potential game-winner to drop at the buzzer.
Portland shot 75 percent in the final quarter (15-of-20).
"We let our guard down in the fourth quarter," Chandler said. "We let one dude who didn't do anything the whole game beat us."