Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Nowitzki leads Mavs to 2-0 series lead with 101-89 win over Blazers
For the second straight game Dirk Nowitzki proved to be too much for the Portland Trail Blazers as they now trail the Dallas Mavericks(lead series 2-0) two games to none. The Blazers saw Nowitzki take over the fourth quarter once again as he scored 14 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter after scoring 18 points in game one in the fourth. The Mavericks once again had great games from role players as their bench outscored the Blazers bench 39-11 including 21 from Peja Stojakovic. The Mavericks were also led by Jason Kidd who scored 18 points including hitting three three pointers. The Blazers wasted another great performance from LaMarcus Aldridge who scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Now the Blazers must fly home knowing they have to win four of the next five games to keep their season alive. The Blazers who haven't won a playoff series in 11 years are off to a bad start to end that streak. For the Mavericks they know the series isn't over yet but they have to feel good about taking care of business at home.
The Blazers came out in the first quarter on the road determine to earn that split. The Blazers were led by Gerald Wallace and LaMarcus Aldridge in the first quarter. The Blazers had a 24-22 lead over the Mavericks led by Wallace who scored 11 points on three for five shooting including a three pointer with three assists. While Aldridge scored eight points on four for six shooting with four rebounds and a block. The Blazers shot 9-18(50.0%) from the field and made two of three three pointers. The Mavericks were led by Peja Stojakovic who scored six points hitting two three pointers. Nowitzki like last game struggled early scoring just four points on one for six shooting. Game one hero Jason Kidd struggled early scoring just three points on one for three shooting. The Mavericks shot 8-19(42.1%) from the field and made three for five from three point range. This quarter summed up the game in a nutshell. The Blazers were led by their starters while the Mavericks were led by balance.
The second quarter featured tons of scoring for both teams as they each scored 28 points to go into halftime with the Blazers leading 52-50. The Blazers were led by Aldridge who once again scored eight points in the quarter to give him 16 points on 7-11 shooting. The Mavericks were led by Nowtizki who scored 10 points to give him 14 points on 3-10 shooting but was a perfect eight for eight at the foul line. The Blazers in the quarter shot 11-21(52.3%) from the field and two for four from the three point line. The Blazers were just four for seven on free throws. For the half the Blazers shot 20-39(51.2%) from the field and 4-7(57.1%) from three point range. The Blazers were led by Aldridge who scored 16 points, Wallace who scored 11 points on three for seven shooting. Nicolas Batum scored seven points in the second to give him 10 points on four for five shooting including two three pointers. Wesley Matthews came up big for the Blazers scoring nine points on four for five shooting including a three pointer. The Blazers were doing a good job keeping pace with the Mavericks.
For the Mavericks they shot 10-21(47.6%) from the field but just one for six from three point range. The Mavericks did shoot seven for nine on free throws. For the half the Mavericks shot 18-40(45.0%) from the field and 4-11(36.4%) from three point range. The Mavericks were 10-13(76.9%) from the free throw line. The Mavericks were led by Nowitzki who scored 14 points, then Stojakovic who scored 10 points on four for six shooting including two three pointers. The Mavericks also saw Kidd score nine points on three for six shooting with two three pointers and Jason Terry score eight points on four for nine shooting. The Mavericks matched the Blazers point for point in the second quarter and were once again in for a battle.
The third quarter continued to be a battle but the Mavericks finally took the lead outscoring the Blazers barely 23-20 to take a 73-72 lead heading into the fourth quarter. For the Blazers they were led by Wallace who scored six points to give him 17 on the game and Aldridge who scored five points to give him 21 points on the game. The Blazers who 8-17(47.1%) from the field and hit one of three three pointers. While the Mavericks shot 10-19(52.6%) from the field and hit two of five three pointers. The Mavericks were led by Kidd in the quarter who scored nine points to give him 18 points on 7-11 shooting including three three pointers and had six assists. Stojakovic scored five points in the quarter including a three pointer to give him 15 points. The Mavericks were heading into the fourth quarter with a slim one point lead. Then in the fourth Nowitzki like last game would take over.
In the fourth quarter the Mavericks depth prevailed over the Blazers. The Mavericks appeared to have fresher legs. It also helps to have a future hall of famer in Nowitzki. The Mavericks got a nice spark from J.J.Barea who scored all six of his points in the fourth quarter. Nowitzki in the fourth quarter scored 14 points on four for seven shooting including six of eight from free throw range. Stojakovic added six points including two three pointers. The Blazers offense struggled scoring just 17 points including just three points from Aldridge who took just two shots the whole fourth quarter. The Mavericks had outscored the Blazers 28-17 in the fourth while shooting 9-17(52.9%) from the field and 8-10(80.0%) from the foul line. While the Blazers shot just 4-10(40.0%) from the field and 7-10(70.0%) from the foul line. When it was all said and done the Mavericks had defeated the Blazers 101-89 to take a two games to zero lead heading back to Portland.
For the Blazers this has to be a disappointment to come to Dallas and come home with no wins. The Blazers were led by Aldridge who scored 24 points on 9-18(50.0%) shooting from the field with 10 rebounds and three block shots. The Blazers had a nice bounce back game from Wallace who scored 18 points on 6-11 shooting with seven rebounds and six assists. Once again Andre Miller had a nice game scoring 18 points on 5-10 shooting with a perfect two for two from three point range. Miller was also six for seven from the foul line while dishing out eight assists and grabbing six rebounds. Matthews also had a nice bounce back game scoring 13 points on 6-11 shooting including a three pointer. Then off the bench Batum scored 10 points on four for seven shooting including two three pointers. The Blazers didn't play bad shooting 32-66(48.5%) from the field, 7-14(50.0%) from three point range but were just 18-27(66.7%) from the foul line. The Blazers turned the ball over 12 times as well. The Blazers have to come home now and sweep at home.
For the Mavericks they were once again led by Nowitzki. Nowitzki put the team on his back in the fourth quarter and finished with a game high 33 points on 9-22 shooting but was 15-17 from the foul line. The Mavericks once again had a great game from Kidd who scored 18 points on 7-11 shooting and knocked down three of six from three point range. Kidd has now made 9-16 from three point range this series while averaging 21.0 points per game. Kidd also dished out eight assists while grabbing four rebounds. Then the Mavericks bench came through with Stojakovic scoring 21 points on 8-13 shooting including 5-10 from three point range. Terry added 10 points on 5-12 shooting with two steals. The Mavericks for the game shot 37-76(48.7%) from the field, 8-19(42.1%) from three point range and 19-26(73.1%) from the foul line. The Mavericks with Nowitzki and good play from key veterans find themselves up 2-0 in the series. For the Mavericks who have been eliminated in the first round three of the last four years they are hoping to put the pressure on the Blazers by winning a game in Portland.
Overall, the Blazers are in a tough spot. After game one there was so much hope as the Blazers looked like the better team with that performance by Kidd looking like a fluke. Instead the Mavericks appear to be the stronger team with the best player on the court(Nowitzki) and a deeper roster than the Blazers. The Blazers need their bench to produce because right now it appears they have just six guys who can play which isn't going to work when you don't have a top 10 player in the NBA on your roster. The Mavericks have a closer in Nowitzki who is a top 10 player in the NBA while the Blazers are hoping Aldridge can be that guy. The Mavericks will enjoy a 2-0 series lead but know this series if far from over. The Blazers better stop that three point shot soon or they'll be going on vacation pretty soon. For all the hope of this finally being the year the Blazers get out of the first round they find themselves two games away from another long offseason.
- LaMarcus Aldridge is the closest player to being a star on the Blazers roster. Which is why I was puzzled to see him have just two field goal attempts in the fourth quarter. Aldridge needs to be more agressive and his teammates need to do a better job of giving him the ball. Look no further than their opponent the Dallas Mavericks who feature Nowitzki in the fourth quarter.
Aldridge is having a nice breakout playoffs so far scoring 24 points with 10 rebounds in game two. Aldridge for the series is averaging 25.5 points per game, eight rebounds, two blocks per game while shooting 21-38(55.3%) from the field. Aldridge has came to play this series yet needs to do more. He has only 12 free throw attempts which is pretty low for a big man. Aldridge needs his teammates to help him out or his great playoffs will end shortly.
- Dirk Nowitzki so far has carried the Mavericks in the fourth quarter. Nowitzki hasn't shot well the first three quarters of either game but in the fourth has been huge. Nowitzki while some Blazers fans will whine and cry has been good at getting to the foul line. He has exploited the mismatches every time a smaller guy is guarding him. For the series Nowitzki is averaging 30.5 PPG and 8.5 RPG. He is shooting just 16-42(38.1%) from the field but has made a remarkable 28-30(93.3%) from the free throw line.
In the fourth quarters Nowitzki is averaing 16.0 PPG on 6-11(55.5%) shooting from the field and an amazing 19-21(90.4%) from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. Nowitzki has been a monster for the Mavericks in the fourth quarter and has done a great job getting to the free throw line. Now when the series shifts to Portland I doubt Nowitzki shoots 21 free throws in the fourth quarter in both games. The scary thing is Nowitzki is averaging 30.5 PPG while making just one three pointer and shooting under 40.0%. What happens when Nowitzki finally shoots his normal 51.7% from the field while making a three pointer a game? If that happens this series could be ending pretty quickly.
- The resurgence of Jason Kidd has been pretty fascinating to see so far. Kidd who had a horrible regular season and scored just 48 points in last years playoffs in six games has gone off. So far Kidd has scored 42 points this series. Kidd is averaging 21.0 PPG, 6.0 APG, 4.5 RPG while shooting 16-25(64.0%) from the field and 9-16(56.3%) from three point range. If Kidd keeps playing at this level safe to say the series is over.
Kidd has scored 42 points in two games which is his best scoring two game stretch since January 22nd when he scored 18 points and then January 24th when he scored 26 points. The year was 2007 and he still played for the New Jersey Nets. That is how rare this run for Kidd has been. Kidd is playing out of his mind right now which has been pretty crazy to watch. I'm sure Blazers fans have to be thinking this is 2011 right not 2004? Either way if Kidd keeps hitting three's they'll be a tough team.
- For the Blazers head coach Nate McMillan his postseason record falls to 12-18(.400) in the playoffs. McMillan like his Blazers roster hasn't tasted much postseason success. In fact since 1993 the Blazers have advanced past the first round just twice. Only Marcus Camby has won a playoff series on this roster. The Blazers showing why they can't win these games because they are freezing up in the fourth quarters having been outscored 56-41 in the last two games in the fourth quarter.
Now some will place that blame squarely on McMillan's shoulders. First game he played Brandon Roy too many minutes while this game he played basically just six guys. Hard to win with just six guys when you don't have a superstar. For McMillan he has to figure out this rotation quickly or the Blazers will lose yet again in the playoffs. For McMillan he is 1-4 in playoff series heading into this series.
In conclusion, the Blazers need to step up at home. The Blazers need their role players to hit some big shots at home. The Blazers haven't won their first home playoff game in a series since 2000 against the Utah Jazz. Hopefully that streak comes to an end or they'll be down 3-0 which no NBA team has ever came back from. The Blazers are in danger of being that team whose window has closed. A loss this series would make that three years in a row losing in the first round and dating back to 1993 9 out of 11. The Blazers played well in the first seven quarters of this series but in the last quarter of game two the Mavericks pulled ahead. Now the series shifts to Portland. Hopefully when the Mavericks fly back to Dallas after game four the Blazers will be joining that flight. The Blazers also hope the series will be tied by then. The Blazers must figure something out quickly or their season will be ending in sudden disappointment like the past two seasons.