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Despite Aldridge's 27, Mavs Close Out Game 1

  1. Written by: Grant Lucas  / avg. rating: 4.0

    The Portland Trail Blazers overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to grab a 68-63 lead in the fourth quarter, but Dirk Nowitzki tallied 18 fourth-quarter points and the Dallas Mavericks closed the night out with a 23-9 run to pull away and seal the win in Game 1 of the NBA Playoffs.

    Dallas hit just four field goals in the deciding period but made 18 of its 19 free throw attempts en route to the victory.

    "Well, we didn't shoot the ball well from the three-point line," Head Coach Nate McMillan said. "I thought at times we had some matchups, but we ended up with 46 points in the paint but only 13 free throws (attempted). And I thought our guys were attacking the basket, being aggressive, offensive rebounding, and there were no calls in some situations. But I thought we were aggressive."

    LaMarcus Aldridge notched 27 points and six rebounds, but the Trail Blazers shot 2-for-16 from three-point range and saw seven of their attempts get rejected by the Mavericks' defense. Andre Miller added 18 points and six assists, while Nicolas Batum finished with 14 points. Marcus Camby posted four points and collected a game-high 18 rebounds.

    "It's rough," Aldridge said. "Whenever you have control of the game going down the stretch and you got to get it out of your head. We just had to stay solid down the stretch and we didn't. They made big shots or big free throws down the stretch and they ended up winning the game."

    Nowitzki registered 28 points and 10 boards in the game and Jason Kidd chipped in with 24 points, draining a playoff career-high six three pointers in 10 attempts. Jason Terry came through with 10 points off the bench.

    "They want me to be aggressive," Kidd said. "We all know that Dirk and [Terry] are offensive guys and they put the ball up. But, in the playoffs you have to have other guys step up and score and I know that our opponents are going to give me that jump shot and I have to be able to knock it down. Tonight was a good example of that."

    Portland owned the paint in the second half, outscoring the Mavericks 30-2 in the second half and 46-18 overall. Dallas' 10 three-pointers and 16 extra free throws were the difference maker, however, as the Mavericks took the series' opening game.

    "I thought we needed to get closer to those guys at the three-point line," McMillan said. "We knew that this was a good three-point shooting team... The free throws, I just don't get that. It's hard for our guys to know how to play out there when it's called a little different - 19-2 (free throw attempt differential) in the fourth quarter... I thought that took the momentum and pretty much gave [the Mavericks] control of the game in the fourth quarter."

    The Mavericks came out strong, putting together an 8-2 run midway through the first to jump ahead 12-5 capped off by a transition jumper by Nowitzki before Portland answered with an 8-2 run of its own.

    While Dallas missed six of its last seven attempts of the period, the Trail Blazers used a 6-2 run to close the quarter and head into the second up 22-21 thanks to 11 points by Aldridge.

    Early in the ensuing period, however, Dallas tallied a 10-2 string to regain control, as the Trail Blazers were outscored 26-15 in the second quarter and trailing bya 10-point margin at the break.

    Aldridge and Miller combined for 25 points on 10-17 shooting, while the rest of the team shot just 5-15 from the floor.

    Portland opened up the second half with six straight points before Kidd buried back-to-back three-balls to restore the Mavericks' 10-point lead.

    Once again, the Trail Blazers made it a ball game with a 10-2 rally, bringing Portland within two points late in the third and trailing by just four going into the final period.

    Gerald Wallace knotted things up at 61 when he threw down a Rudy Fernandez alley-oop early in the fourth. Soon after, Fernandez gave Portland the edge with a three-point play after the Trail Blazers took advantage of a three-on-one fastbreak. Portland earned a 68-63 edge before Dallas went on a 16-6 rally to take the lead right back.

    Dallas brought the game back to a stalemate at 72. After Miller hit a shot to go up two, Nowitzki pocketed a corner trey then followed it up with two free throws to give the Mavericks a three-point edge with just more than three minutes to go.

    Portland had a chance to make it a one-point game but Batum missed a three from the right corner. On the Mavericks' next possession, Jason Terry reeled in an offensive rebound, allowing Kidd to hit his sixth three-pointer of the night.

    "This is big time for us," said Tyson Chandler, who finished with four points, nine rebounds and two blocks. "I know in the past from what I've seen, these are the kinds of tough games that we have struggled to win... For us to come up with a big stop there and we were down six and we go on to make that run, that is huge for our confidence right now."

    Batum answered with a three-ball, but four Dallas free throws put the game away for good.

    The Trail Blazers and Mavericks pick things up again on Tuesday night for Game 2 of the NBA Playoffs.

    "It's always tought (to bounce back), but when you have a chance to win it always makes you feel better," Aldridge said. "We beat ourselves tonight so we've just got to come back and be more solid next time."

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