DONUT 1: Mavs 115, Blazers 112 in OT
The Mavs came into Tuesday's matchup trying to rebound after dropping a tough game in Sacramento. After falling for the fourth game in five tries, the Mavs were desperate for a win before coming home to face a reeling Houston Rockets squad on Friday. The Mavs eventually would prevail 115-112 in a back-and-forth thriller that saw both teams lead by double-digits on more than one occasion.
“We just kept fighting,” said Deron Williams, who scored a season-high 30 points, including a huge step-back 3 to help seal it. “I don’t know where it came from, but I’m glad we had it tonight. I’m glad we had this resilience tonight and we were able to fight back, and we didn’t lay down. It was a game on the road and the second night of a back-to-back. We had a lead early, lost it, and then we just never really found a good rhythm until the end. I think that says a lot about our team and about the fight we have.
“I thought it was a great team win for us.''
Deron was a huge part of it as he experienced a stellar bounce-back performance after a tough night against the Kings' despicable Rajon Rondo. (A look back, if you dare, is here). D-Will, who has remained mostly healthy so far this season thanks in part to Casey Smith and the outstanding Mavs training staff, added to his 64-percent-shooting offense with eight dimes and two key defensive stops on Damian Lillard in the fourth that gave the Mavs a chance late in the game.
But he wasn't alone.
DONUT 2: Ironman 2
Wes Matthews returned to Portland for the first time as a Maverick, and got a warm reception from the home crowd. Wes was a fan favorite in Portland, and it’s easy to see why. Matthews is an incredibly hard worker and a great teammate, and Rip City knows he gave them everything he had and more during his time there.
“It was amazing,” Matthews said of the crowd response. “I didn’t really know what to expect. I was trying to focus on the game. These fans have been amazing to me since I got here, and it meant a lot.''
Here's more Wes ...
Of course, even after the ovation, as Wes points out here, then you've got to go compete in the game and in that department -- no matter the degree of success -- Matthews is an absolute warrior. Considering everything he’s been through in the last year, it’s a miracle that this guy is even on the floor. Here, Matthews was instrumental in the Mavs success, scoring eight points down the stretch to keep the Mavs in it late. Matthews would finish with 18 points on 45-percent shooting.
Said Dirk Nowitzki: “I think what really gave us a chance to win was Wes’ two threes. We were down 10, and the game looked really out of reach. And Wes hit those two huge threes to even put us in a position to go to overtime and win the game. Those were two big shots.''
Yes, yes. But he wasn't alone, either.
DONUT 3: Speaking of Dirk
The Big German started hot with 13 points on four-of-seven shooting in the first half, leading the Mavs in scoring through the first 24 minutes. Dirk is still the go-to guy for this team, and it’s important for the Mavs offense that Dirk gets going early. When Dirk is hitting his shots, the whole team becomes more confident, and tends to follow his lead. Dirk would end the game scoring 28 points, grabbing seven rebounds and handing out six assists, all while pulling the Mavs back into the game at the end of regulation. ... and then throwing up a late dagger.
DONUT 4: Quarter-by-Quarter
*Coming off of a poor shooting night on Monday, the Mavs came out firing in the first quarter, and got out to a 27-18 lead. Solid defense combined with hot shooting from Dirk and Wes got the Mavs moving the right direction heading into the second frame.
*The Blazers hit the Mavs right back in the jaw in the second quarter, outscoring Dallas 34-23 in the frame behind solid efforts from Allen Crabbe and Damian Lillard. The Mavs, who led by as many as 15 in this one, trailed 52-50 at the break, thanks in part to nine turnovers in the half.
*Dallas responded to the Blazers' haymaker attempt in the third, outscoring the Blazers 24-21 in the quarter. The Mavs seemingly made some defensive adjustments at the half, slowing down the Blazers relentless three-point attack. Dallas took a 74-73 lead into the final 12 minutes behind solid quarters from D-Will and Dirk.
*The Mavs ended the fourth quarter behind a furious comeback fueled by the aforementioned Matthews and the Big German, sending the game to overtime at a 96-96 tie. D-Will also played a big part for the Mavs on both ends of the floor in the fourth.
In the end, this was a game of runs, with both teams leading by double-digits on more than one occasion. The Mavs would pull ahead in overtime, outscoring the Blazers 19-16 in extra time behind a vintage Dirkie performance from Nowitzki. D-Will was equally valuable to the Mavs in the overtime period as well, coming up with a couple of clutch buckets of his own, and propelling the Mavs to a big 115-112 victory.
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DONUT 6: Double-Double Machine
Would you rather have the $20-mil center who is in LA joking about missing free throws at a record pace? Sure, we suppose so, because the potentially great center helps a franchise be potentially great. Would you rather have the $25-mil center who is in Houston having similar struggles keeping himself and his team together? Sure. Potential greatness, and all that.
But there is also something to be said for the coveted "Basketball Soul'' (this 11-8 Mavs team seems to have that, does it not?) and there is something to be said for a center who is fulfilling his potential to be something short of truly "great'' ... but what's wrong with "damn good''?
Zaza Pachulia continued his stellar play, securing his 12th double-double of the season by halftime. Zaza is now tied for second in the league with Russell Westbrook for the most double-doubles at this point in the season. Zaza finished the game with 14 points and 21 boards with the Blazers really struggling to slow him down.
There are things "Plan ZZ'' will never do. But he has very quickly become a Mavs Nation pet here (as we suspect he was in previous stops in Atlanta and Milwaukee) because he seems to care very deeply about not cheating his teammates, the paying customers or the game.
Can 100 percent of Zaza match the whatever-percent given by his superstar counterparts? So far, so good.
DONUT 7: Props To Portland
And not just for their classy Wes Warmth.
The Blazers are a tough nut to crack. After the departure of Wes and LaMarcus Aldridge this summer, Portland was left scrambling to rebuild their roster while trying to stay competitive behind Damian Lillard. It’s been a tough go for the young Blazers, but they’ve built a nice young core around their superstar with C.J. McCollum, former Mav Al-Forouq Aminu, and Myers Leonard. Their future is bright if they continue to build around their talented youngsters. ... as long as at least one guy eventually achieves Aldridge-level stardom, because this is still a star-driven league.
Is Lillard that guy?
He is a stud. Coming into Wednesday night, Lillard was averaging 24.3 points and 6.8 assists per game, and is one of the best young point guards in the league. It’s hard not to like his game (especially after knocking Houston out of the playoffs in agonizing fashion two years ago) with the effort and energy that he plays with on a nightly basis. Lillard would finish the night with 25 points, eight boards and 10 assists.
DONUT 8: Stay in Touch!
DONUT 9: The Dirkie/Player of the game
Do we have to pick one? Dirk (28 points, seven rebounds and seven assists), D-Will (30 points and eight assists) and Zaza (14 points and 21 boards) were all very deserving of the Dirkie in this game. So, Who Deserves 'The Dirkie' for this Mavs OT Win At Portland? You vote!
By the way, Dirk himself should get a few votes for his sense of humor alone. After this play ...
"Oh, man, I was praying he was going to miss it," Nowitzki laughed of McCollum's move. "And I turned around and he made it. I told him at halftime it was cold-blooded to go at the old man like that.''
DONUT 10: Stats of the Night
Portland’s bench was absolutely outstanding in this game, scoring 73 points to the Mavs 16. The Blazers have a lot of shooters off the bench, but ... wow. That's a tough way for a home team to lose.
The Mavs' counterpunch stat? Cleaning up the turnovers. After nine turnovers in the first half, the Mavs tightened things up, only giving away the ball three times in the second half.
DONUT 11: What's Next?
The Mavs will return home for a one-game home stand against the Houston Rockets on Friday night at 7:30pm at the AAC. The Mavs offense will hope to receive a boost from guard J.J. Barea, who is targeting Friday night for a potential return to the team. As per usual, Chandler Parsons was absent from the lineup here on the second night of a back-to-back. It’s got to be tough for the Mavs new centerpiece to sit out when his team is desperate for a win, but patience now should pay off for both him and the Mavs down the line. ... starting again Friday.
CP wasn’t the only Mav missing from the lineup on Wednesday, as JaVale McGee sat out the second leg of a back-to-back. The absence of McGee forced Charlie V into some increase minutes, who made the most of his opportunity, scoring 10 points.
DONUT 12: The Final Word
"We’re a veteran team, we’re a tough team and we’re a smart team. We just turned our level of intensity up and our aggressiveness, and we were able to come out with a big win.” - Wes Matthews.