Game 3 First Impressions Blazers 97, Mavs 92

Brandon Roy was ineffective in Game 1, in tears in Game 2 and in his element in Game 3, as he helped his Portland TrailBlazers re-enter this best-of-seven series with a 97-92 home win over the Mavs on Thursday. Here's First Impressions.

"Tough times don't last,'' said Roy, who scored 16 points in 18 minutes on 6-of-10 shooting to help key the emotional win. "Tough people do.''

The Dallas Mavericks , still up 2-1 in the series, can make the argument that this was a "feel-good'' loss in the sense that so many things went wrong … and they still took the game to the wire. They lost in part because despite this era of Mavericks being among the greatest free-throw-shooting clubs in NBA history, Dallas missed five free throws in the fourth quarter alone.

But the step-up game from Roy – a former All-Star who this year underwent what seemed to be career-threatening surgeries on both knees – is Portland's version of "feel-good.'' I'll get Mavs-centric in a moment, but I do respect that Roy willed himself into the spotlight, at least for the moment.

In Game 1, Roy was given lots of leash, including a major fourth-quarter role, and Portland lost as he contributed two points on 1-of-7 shooting.

In Game 2, the leash was a shoelace. Roy was allowed just eight minutes of play and did not score a field goal. And when coach Nate McMillan opted to keep Roy on the bench throughout the fourth quarter, Roy admitted to the Portland newspaper that he had to tell himself, "You better not cry.''

Roy added that he "just always thought I would be treated better. That was a little disappointing for me.''

B-Roy, through the first two games in this series, was averaging 1.0 points per game.

Now, Roy will have less than 40 hours to turn around and try to do something more than that again in Game 4, a 2 p.m. (West Coast time) tip in Portland. (Don't forget, we've got the Mavs Get-Together at ThreeSheets!) That's a challenge for him and his knees. ... A lot is already being made of 38-year-old Jason Kidd making the quick turnaround, but I think it's less likely that Roy does do successfully ...

But immediately, the Blazers get to celebrate the backcourt work of Roy and Wesley Matthews, who combined for 41 points on 14-of-22 shooting after combing for just 17 points on 8-of-22 shooting in the first two games.

Portland also rode the 20 points of LaMarcus Aldridge, deeply involved in a next-gen battle with Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki. The UberMan totaled 25, but most critically, he made just 4-of-7 from the free-throw line.

Dirk approaching mortality in Game 3 is among Dallas' Thursday headaches, which also include:

*The Mavs losing despite shooting 52 percent and "actually feeling good about the way we kept fighting,'' Dirk said.

*Jason Terry scoring 29 points – but the problems that seem to historically ensue when the Mavs ask him to do too much. Dallas has lost four straight playoff games when he scores 20-plus points. That's not to blame Jet, but rather to suggest that an over-reliance on him means other Mavs are failing to lift their load.

*Tyson Chandler registering as a non-factor, a victim of what the Mavs think were at least four ticky-tacky fouls that led to his disqualification after just 15 minutes of burn.

*Jason Kidd making a clutch 3-pointer with 12.9 seconds remaining that cut the Portland lead to two … but then the controversial referee reversal after the judgment that Kidd's toe had nipped the line, making his 3 a 2 and making the two-point deficit a three-point hole.

*Big picture? The Mavs still have some semblance of control in the series, and as the NBA's best road team this year (along with Miami), has reason for confidence going into Saturday. At the same time, the Mavs' playoffs road record in the postseason is a vastly different story: Since the start of the 2006 NBA Finals, te Mavs are 2-17 in playoff games.

*But I keep coming back to Dallas blowing a chance to do something that comes easy (13-of-23 total from the line) … and to Brandon Roy grabbing the opportunity to do something that for him, post-surgery, comes hard.

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