Trail Blazers vs. MavericksLaMarcus Aldridge scores 30 points to pace Portland to a 127-111 win over the Mavericks.
DALLAS — After missing the first 41 games of the season, the wait was over for Dallas Mavericks guard Devin Harris.
Rehabbing from offseason toe surgery through the first half of the season, Harris finally made his long-awaited return to game action Saturday night as the Mavericks welcomed in the Portland Trail Blazers. He then tried to help the Mavs continue their dominance over the Trail Blazers at American Airlines Center after winning 16 of the previous 19 meetings between the two teams in Dallas.
But, after handing the Trail Blazers (31-9) a 108-106 loss on their home floor back on Dec. 7, the Mavs would see the Portland team get even. And despite welcoming Harris back into the lineup, the Mavericks (24-18) suffered a 127-111 loss before returning to the road for the next three games.
“It’s good to be back out there,” Harris said after making his debut. “Obviously I would have liked a better result, but I was just getting within a game rhythm. It felt a lot better in the second half. In the first half, I was just kind of going through the motions and feeling my way out there. Everything felt good. Just got quality minutes and something to build upon.”
Looking to build off Friday’s 110-107 win in Phoenix, the Mavericks tried to conclude their 11th back-to-back of the season with a clean sweep. Meanwhile, the Blazers also took the court flying high after a win the night before, capturing a 109-100 victory in San Antonio.
With first-string point guard Jose Calderon battling through a right knee contusion that sidelined him late in the second half of Friday’s win, the Mavericks attempted to get off to a fast start. At the same time, four-time All-Star forward Shawn Marion made his 1,000th career start.
Harris then checked in with 3:22 remaining in the opening quarter, entering to a loud ovation after spending his first 3 1/2 seasons with the franchise. But, despite Harris’ buzzer-beating jumper to close the period, the Blazers sprinted to a quick double-digit advantage before sliding into the second quarter with a 35-23 lead.
Wright BlockBrandan Wright grabs Wesley Mathews' shot right out of the air.
“It was great,” Harris said after the home crowd welcomed him back. “It’s been a long time, but it was great the way they embraced me.”
After trailing by as many as 15 in the first period and allowing Blazers forward Nicolas Batum to explode for 15 quick points, the Mavericks tried to settle down on defense in the second quarter. However, despite the best efforts of 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs couldn’t crack a dent in their deficit early in the second stanza, falling behind by 21 in the process.
With his team in need of a spark, starting 2-guard Monta Ellis intervened while relentlessly attacking the rim. Sixth man Vince Carter’s thunderous and-one slam over Robin Lopez then got the hometown fans out of their seats. Still, behind the interior play of LaMarcus Aldridge, the Blazers headed into the halftime break with a 71-52 lead.
Outshooting the Mavs through two quarters, 59.1 percent to 43.5 percent, the Blazers also added a dominant 30-13 rebounding margin. Meanwhile, the Mavericks tried to make the proper adjustments after surrendering 38 points in the paint at the midway mark.
“We’ve got to find a way to compete a little harder and keep guys out of the paint,” Nowitzki later confessed. “Everybody’s just got to work a little harder.”
Carter JamVince Carter drives the paint and drops the hammer.
Coming out of their home locker room, the Mavericks once again looked to stage a comeback attempt as the third period got underway. But instead the visiting Portland team would continue to dominate behind Aldridge, causing frustration to build for Nowitzki as the 7-footer was assessed a technical foul at the 5:10 mark for arguing with officials.
The Blazers’ lead then ballooned to 36 before entering the fourth with a 104-70 advantage.
Still, even after Portland went ahead by 38, the Mavericks’ young contributors continued to fight in the fourth as the Dallas bench made the score more respectable thanks to a 17-0 run. And with the Mavs within 15, Blazers coach Terry Stotts was forced to put his starters back into the game with 4:19 remaining as Aldridge closed with scores down the stretch.
“We regressed tonight,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle concluded. “The first three quarters are beyond embarrassing. We were poor on offense, too, but we weren’t together. We weren’t playing together. We weren’t helping each other. Do that against a quality team, a high-level quality team like Portland, and they’re going to make you pay a heavy price.
“The guys that were in there in the fourth quarter really fought. They won the quarter, 41-23, which is great. I’m going to find guys that will fight and get them in the game. Simple as that.”
Vintage VinceVince Carter pulls a vintage George Gervin finger roll.
Finishing a 6-of-17 shooting night, Nowitzki led the Mavs with 18 points in a losing cause. Ellis added 15 points in a 6-of-12 shooting performance. Backup center DeJuan Blair and second-year standout Jae Crowder both scored 13 points apiece in reserve roles, while Carter pitched in 11 points off the bench.
Meanwhile, Harris played 17 minutes, scored six points on 2-of-4 shooting and dished out two assists in his return.
“I actually like what I saw,” Nowitzki said of Harris’ return. “I think he felt good. Obviously his rhythm was a little off since he hasn’t played since April, but when an injured player comes back you see how he moves, cuts, stops and accelerates, and I thought it was great. He picked up fullcourt and he made a couple of hard moves. I’m looking forward to getting him out there more and more and playing at a high level.”
Aldridge led all five Portland starters in double figures with a game-high 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting, adding 12 rebounds. The Blazers also outshot the Mavs on the night, 51.1 percent to 46.7 percent, adding a 55-30 rebounding edge and 60-38 margin in the paint to overcome Dallas’ 18 points off Portland’s 15 turnovers.
“It was definitely not a good outing,” Nowitzki admitted. “They’re obviously a tough team to defend. They’ve got LaMarcus on the block, a lot of shooters out there and a lot of playmakers, and they really got whatever they wanted for three quarters. That wasn’t very good, and we have to compete a little harder.”
Note: The Mavericks will now return to the road, beginning a three-game trip in Cleveland for a matchup Monday against the Cavaliers. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at noon CT.
The Mavs return to American Airlines Center on Sunday, Jan. 26, to begin a four-game homestand against the Detroit Pistons. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 6:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.
Portland Trail Blazers
|Nicolas Batum, F||33||8-11||3-6||2-3||0||7||7||1||0||0||1||0||36||21|
|LaMarcus Aldridge, F||31||11-18||0-0||8-9||3||9||12||2||3||1||4||2||40||30|
|Robin Lopez, C||26||7-13||0-0||2-2||4||8||12||2||0||3||0||2||25||16|
|Wesley Matthews, G||27||3-10||2-7||2-2||0||2||2||3||1||0||2||2||20||10|
|Damian Lillard, G||30||3-8||2-6||6-6||0||5||5||10||0||0||1||3||28||14|
|Shawn Marion, F||24||1-6||1-2||0-0||0||3||3||1||0||0||1||2||-24||3|
|Dirk Nowitzki, F||21||6-17||1-5||5-5||0||3||3||0||0||1||0||3||-23||18|
|Samuel Dalembert, C||13||1-2||0-0||0-0||1||5||6||0||0||0||1||3||-17||2|
|Monta Ellis, G||23||6-12||0-0||3-5||0||2||2||2||1||0||1||1||-23||15|
|Jose Calderon, G||20||2-6||0-2||1-1||0||2||2||3||0||0||1||1||-16||5|
DALLAS — Although he was the smallest player on the court Friday night against the Phoenix Suns at U.S. Airways Center, Dallas Mavericks rookie Shane Larkin found a way to make the biggest impact.
Scoring a career-high 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting and dishing out five assists, the 5-foot-11 Larkin sparked the Mavericks (24-17) on the road to a bounce-back 110-107 victory. The undersized guard’s production also came when the Mavs needed him most, stepping in for starting floor general Jose Calderon as he battled a right knee contusion in the second half.
“This is why we drafted him,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said with high praise for Larkin’s effort. “We felt like he could have this kind of impact. Jose banged a knee in the first half and it wasn’t quite right in the second half, and so we totally changed our rotation and Shane responded in a big way. He made plays down the stretch, made free throws and hit guys. He was probably our leading scorer in the last four or five minutes, which is huge on the road. It’s hard to win on the road in the NBA.”
“Phoenix likes to get up and down, and I’ve always been accustom to the up-and-down style,” Larkin added. “It was just a great game, 110-107, and just to be able to know I contributed and was a part of the win in a big way really just helps your confidence. Hopefully I can keep it going.”
The former Miami standout will try to keep it going Saturday night as the Mavericks complete a back-to-back by welcoming in the Portland Trail Blazers to American Airlines Center. However, with Calderon’s status uncertain and fellow rookie Gal Mekel out indefinitely following arthroscopic surgery Friday to address a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee, Larkin could receive help in the backcourt with the possible season debut of veteran Devin Harris.
Harris has missed the Mavs’ first 41 games after rehabbing from offseason toe surgery, but he appears to be nearing a return. Meanwhile, the Mavs will try to continue their dominance at home over the Northwest Division-leading Trail Blazers (30-9), after winning 16 of the last 19 matchups between the two teams in Dallas.
After an instant classic the last time the Mavericks and Blazers squared off, sparks figure to fly Saturday as the squads collide once again with Western Conference positioning on the line. Led by 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki’s team-high 30 points, the Mavericks ended the Blazers’ four-game win streak at the time after Dallas’ 108-106 road win on Dec. 7, overcoming Damian Lillard’s game-high 32 points at the other end. Mavs starting shooting guard Monta Ellis then sent the visiting team sprinting out of the Moda Center with the victory, connecting on a 21-footer as the game clock ran down to the final buzzer.
“It was definitely a fun game to be a part of,” Nowitzki said after the win. “I mean, (in Portland) the fans are as good as it gets in this league. The team is hot, so it was a fun atmosphere and fun game to play for us. We’re fortunate to get out with a win. (Heck) of a team effort.”
The Mavs will look for the same effort Saturday before returning to the road for a three-game trip with stops in Cleveland, Toronto and Brooklyn next week.
Note: The Mavs return to American Airlines Center on Saturday while completing a back-to-back against the Portland Trail Blazers. Dallas leads the season series 1-0 after a 108-106 win in Portland on Dec. 7. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.