Another Unbelievable Finish
By mikebarrett Posted in: Mavericks
How can these amazing come-from-behind wins keep getting more dramatic and more improbable? Each time we think we've seen this group of Blazers pull a rabbit out of a hat, they come back to one-up themselves.
This time it was LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored five points in the final four seconds of regulation, including the game winner at the horn, as the Blazers beat the Dallas Mavericks 106-104.
That alone would be amazing enough, but it doesn't tell even half the story. Portland actually trailed in this game 69-48 with 8:30 to go in the third quarter. But, it gets better. They trailed 101-94 with 1:37 left.
Then, came a flurry of three pointers, each bigger than the previous one.
With the Blazers trailing 101-98, Nic Batum, who had been off the mark all night long, tied the game with a bomb with 28 seconds left. Dallas then came down, kicked the ball out top, and Dirk Nowitzki threw in a dagger from behind the arc with 12 seconds left. The Blazers then tried to go to Batum again, but he kicked the ball to LaMarcus Aldridge who hit his first three pointer of the season with 4.9 seconds left to tie the game at 104.
After that, came perhaps the best coaching move of the game by Terry Stotts. He hustled Ronnie Price, the veteran, into the game for Damian Lillard. Price drew a huge offensive foul on O.J. Mayo with just 1.5 seconds left (you want bench production? Don't measure production by points alone. It's this kind of stuff that guys keep providing at key moments that make wins like this possible).
After Portland's final timeout of the game, and just 1.5 on the clock, the Blazers drew up a play that's first option was Batum in the corner. When that was defended, they went to Aldridge who lofted up a turnaround jumper over Brandan Wright. The shot went in, just beating the buzzer, and the Blazers celebrated another win.
The only finish that I can remember that is in the same league with this one, was two years ago, when the Blazers beat San Antonio on a last-second lob to Batum. In that game, Batum scored four points in the final 1.9 seconds. I didn't think we'd see a finish that measured up to that one for a long, long time.
It's tough to measure this victory by itself though. It's the eighth time this season the Trail Blazers have come back to win after trailing by 11 or more points. It was their first win when trailing by 21 points.
And, make no mistake, this was a huge win for the Blazers, all drama aside. Dallas came into the game having won six of their last eight. Their only two losses during that stretch had been to San Antonio and Oklahoma City. This put a huge dent in the momentum they had been building since getting Nowitzki back, and starting on this role. Before this game the Blazers had talked about feeling Dallas nipping at their heels in the Western Conference standings. This was also the first game of a very tough four-game road trip for the Mavs. They were very good for much of this game. But, as they have experienced time and time again this season, they failed to close.
The Mavericks are now 2-7 in games decided by four points or fewer. All we were saying late is how they didn't want to see overtime, where they are 1-8 on the season. The Blazers, meanwhile, are now 8-3 in games decided by three points or fewer, and are 5-1 in overtime games.
There's one more thing that was pointed out to me that puts a cap on this night. Longtime Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler started "Lawler's Law" many years ago. It simply says, "the first team to 100 wins." Since 1978 that has been correct 91.5% of the time. The Trail Blazers have now broken Lawler's Law twice in the last three games.
For Aldridge, it's the second time he's broken Dallas' hearts at the buzzer. Late last season he beat them at the buzzer in Dallas. Now, he's done it again. Oh, and he's from Dallas.
Clearly, this took more than Aldridge. There was Batum's three, Wesley Matthews' four key steals, and JJ Hickson's 26 points and 15 rebounds. Damian Lillard had 8 assists. Price took the huge offensive foul, Luke Babbitt drilled a big three, and Sasha Pavlovich was huge in his 9 minutes of action. He ended with a +13 in the plus/minus category. Babbitt was a +20. I don't always love the +/- stat, but on this night it's a telling category.
I hope you didn't turn off the game too early. You should know better by now.