The Dallas Mavericks built a massive lead after pouncing on Portland and survived a late run by the Trail Blazers.
Dallas scored the first nine points of the game and led by 26 at one point -- 20 in the fourth quarter. But the Blazers, fueled by a 17-2 run, managed to give themselves a chance to send the game into overtime on their final possession.
Mavs center Chris Kaman had his best performance of a frustrating season, recording his third double-double in a Dallas uniform with a season-high 26 points and 11 rebounds. Kaman was singlehandedly outscoring the Blazers, 14-11, when he checked out of the game with 3:29 remaining in the first quarter.
The Mavs’ offense turned into a mess in the fourth quarter, scoring only 15 points while Dirk Nowitzki (six points, 2-7 FG) watched from the bench, apparently due to an injury suffered earlier in the game.
Blazers rookie guard Will Barton, whose role increased due to starter Wesley Matthews leaving the game with an ankle injury in the second quarter, keyed the comeback by catching fire. Barton scored 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter.
But this wasn’t a repeat of the Mavs’ Game 4 meltdown in the Rose Garden during the 2011 first round. Or, for that matter, the 21-point blown lead in a loss the last time the Mavs played in Portland. Dallas escaped with the win this time, extending the Blazers’ losing streak to eight games.
What it means: Those .500 beards are in jeopardy again. The Mavs (38-39) pulled back to within one game of the break-even point, finishing the four-game road trip with a 2-2 split despite dropping the first two games. The Mavs remain mathematically alive in the race for the West’s eighth seed, although the Utah Jazz’s road win Sunday over the Golden State Warriors stung. Dallas is 2½ games behind the Jazz and two games behind the Los Angeles Lakers, but both of those teams own tie-breakers over the Mavs. The Mavs’ tragic numbers (combined losses and Lakers/Jazz wins) are two with the Jazz and three with the Lakers.
Play of the game: O.J. Mayo saved the ball from under the Blazers’ basket by firing a full-court pass to Darren Collison, who made a leaping catch and turned in midair to feed Shawn Marion for a layup. That bucket stretched the Mavs’ lead to 22 midway through the second quarter.