1. The Brandon Roy Of Old
When Brandon Roy's 3-point attempt just before the third-quarter buzzer rolled around and in, it seemed to taunt Portland Trail Blazers fans who had seen their team miss their first 15 shots after halftime. Instead, it turned out to be a step toward one of the most improbable comebacks in NBA playoff history.
After scoring 18 points in the fourth quarter to help the Blazers rally from a deficit as large as 23 points and defeat the Dallas Mavericks 84-82 to square their first-round series at two wins apiece, Roy admitted that he too figured his team was finished.
"Even playing the game, it kind of seemed like it was over," Roy said. "Dallas was just pounding us. We had no rhythm the entire night. I remember sitting on the sideline, and Coach was basically saying if we lose tonight, we're done."
It was up to Roy to supply the missing offense, a prospect that seemed unthinkable as recently as Tuesday. That's when Roy played just eight minutes in Portland's Game 2 loss in Dallas. Afterward, Roy complained to The Oregonian about his playing time, saying, "I just always thought I would be treated better." All was forgiven after Roy played a key role in Thursday's win at the Rose Garden, coming off the bench to score 16 points. But in the first half on Saturday, Roy was a nonfactor, scoring two points and missing both of his attempts from the field.
Something clicked when Roy knocked down the 3 to end the third quarter. Suddenly, the Roy who had become an All-Star fixture before repeated knee surgeries forced him to the bench returned. The Blazers had seen flashes of that level of play over the last two months, but this was the whole package -- Roy beating defenders off the dribble with his crossover, finishing at the rim, pulling up for midrange jumpers and finding teammates when he drew defensive help.
"We all here in Portland know what he is capable of doing and tonight was Brandon Roy of old," said Blazers coach Nate McMillan. "He took the game on his shoulders and just carried the team, willed the team to a win. There were possessions where I thought he was doing a good job of setting guys up and kicking it out, but in the fourth quarter, I saw Brandon of old in the sense that he wasn't passing the ball. He was going to take the shot and he was going to live with the result whether he made it or missed."
During the final period, Roy scored 18 of his 24 points. He also handed out four assists and was responsible for 12 of the team's 15 field goals in the quarter. Roy's heroics might not have mattered had Portland been unable to get stops at the other end and cut into the Dallas lead, which was still 10 points as late as the 3:33 mark, when Jason Terry knocked down a 3-point dagger from the corner. But the Mavericks would score only one more field goal the rest of the game, turning the ball over twice and not getting a single shot attempt for Dirk Nowitzki down the stretch. By that point, the sellout crowd had become a major factor in the game, roaring its approval for each score and stop.
With 1:06 left to play, Roy tied the game by knocking down a 3-pointer and drawing the foul for a four-point play. On the Blazers' next possession, Roy banked in a pull-up jumper off the glass to give Portland its first lead since the score was 9-8. Down to a last chance in the waning seconds, Dallas finally found a way to stop Roy when Jason Kidd denied him the basketball until late in the shot clock and Roy was forced to take an off-balance 3-pointer that went long. Without any timeouts, the Mavericks hurried the ball up to Terry, who missed a shot that would have won it at the buzzer.
Like that, Portland's rally was complete. The Blazers became just the third team in the shot-clock era to rally from a deficit of 18 points or larger entering the fourth period of a playoff game. Portland had never even won in the postseason in franchise history when trailing by double digits after three quarters. Yet that was still only the day's second most impressive comeback, trailing Roy's re-emergence as a star who can carry the Blazers to victory."Brandon doesn't talk much, but you could see in his eyes that he was going to control this game," said McMillan. "We hadn't seen that in a while."
Kevin Pelton covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.
2. Spurs Need TO After Z-Bo's Big Shot
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Maybe the Memphis Grizzlies really did tank those last couple of games of the regular season because they really did want to see mighty San Antonio in the first round of the playoffs. Maybe Lionel Hollins will eventually be able to admit that to us someday.
Trust me, though.
Hollins did not want this.
Nowhere to be found on Hollins' wish list was the script that had the Grizzlies coming home to roll up a 15-point lead, surrender all of that lead, transform the most raucous crowd in Grizzlies history into the most jittery Grizzlies crowd of all time -- and then mis-run the most important play of the game.
"The play kinda got busted," Hollins admitted later. "I screwed it up during the timeout. I didn't want it the way it was [run]."
3. Daily Dime Live
Zach Harper, TrueHoop Network bloggers and fans gave their in-game opinions on all topics throughout Saturday's slate of NBA playoff talk in Daily Dime Live.
4. Mavs Can't Escape Their Demons
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Just when it seemed this team might really be different, the Dallas Mavericks reminded us why they don't deserve to be trusted.
Especially not when it matters most.
For a few quarters Saturday, the Mavs played like a team that was the polar opposite of the soft reputation that has been slapped on them. They were tough. They were physical. They were aggressive. They were dominant defensively.
Then they morphed into the same ol' playoff Mavs, putting them in danger of yet another premature postseason exit.
A 23-point lead disappeared in a matter of a dozen minutes and change. Brandon Roy, who has no knees but apparently unlimited heart, outscored the Mavs by himself in the fourth quarter to carry the Blazers to the biggest comeback in Portland playoff history.
5. Extreme Behavior
Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks: When the Mavs win, most of the credit goes to Nowitzki, so he has to take some blame for this one when Dallas failed to hold an 18-point lead in the final period.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"It still just doesn't feel real yet. It was just an unbelievable game and comeback. With everything I've been through this season, they just all came into that moment there on the court when guys were grabbing and cheering me on. It was real special."
-- Blazers guard Brandon Roy after his late-game heroics against the Mavericks
6. NBA Video Channel
7. Rose's Wizardry Reaches Limit
INDIANAPOLIS -- The tattoo that graces Derrick Rose's left shoulder is of a wizard palming a basketball with the pseudo nickname "Poohdini."
Aside from the obvious confusion -- Harry Houdini being a real-life magician, not a storybook wizard with a pointy cap -- it's a fitting reminder the kid called Pooh is a wizard/magician with the basketball.
In the first three games of this playoff series against Indiana, and pretty much all season, Rose led a team of Poohdinis to victory after victory. But with the chance to clinch, and Rose hobbled by a sprained ankle, the magic ran out Saturday afternoon when the Indiana Pacers foiled the Bulls' escape trick and kept the series alive with an 89-84 win in front of a bipartisan crowd at Conseco Fieldhouse. The series returns to Chicago on Tuesday night.
• To read the rest of the column, click here »
8. So Close
9. Grizzlies Halfway To Upset
First playoff victory check. First home playoff win check. First playoff series victory not quite yet. However, after the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the San Antonio Spurs, they moved one step closer to accomplishing that goal as they took a 2-1 series lead.
The Grizzlies are just the seventh No. 8 seed to be up 2-1 in a series since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams during the 1983-84 campaign. This is only the third time it's happened since the first round expanded to a seven-game series in the 2003 playoffs.
Memphis still has some work to do, though: Of the six different No. 8 seeds to lead a series 2-1, only two of them went on to win the series.
Still, the Grizzlies now have proved they can beat the Spurs in the playoffs with Manu Ginobili in the lineup. In fact, it was Ginobili who had the ball in his hands at the end of the game with a chance to tie, but was unable to even get a shot off.