Highlights: Mavs vs. Blazers - 2/7/15
Dirk Nowitzki hit a 3-pointer to force overtime and the Mavericks never looked back as they beat the Trail Blazers 111-101. Tyson Chandler recorded his 23rd double-double of the season.
Massive comebacks like the one we saw last night don’t happen everyday. But, one thing is sure: Comebacks are not unicorns. They aren’t mystical, magical, or otherworldly. Consider them more like an antidote or some other type of surefire medical treatment. Each one is carefully crafted with a combination of expertise, luck, and the general belief that an ailment or disease can be treated.
Dallas trailed by 11 points with less than three minutes to go in last night’s game, and probably the only 20 people in the AAC who thought the Mavs would be able to pull it out were all on the Mavericks bench, but that’s really all that matters in this sport. With a little luck, a lot of skill, and a ton of belief in themselves, the Mavericks then quickly, yet carefully, put together a comeback that turned an imminent defeat into one of the biggest regular-season wins in recent memory.
“The key thing in sport is to keep fighting, stay persistent, keep believing in each other,” head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. “That’s what our guys did. There were a few times during the game where we hung our heads a little bit when (the Blazers) were making plays. In the last six minutes, we were as strong as you could be mentally and physically.”
The best part about basically anything this team does is every single player contributes. The Mavericks relied heavily on seven players last night — the five starters and reserves Devin Harris and Al-Farouq Aminu — and each of them made plays during the comeback. Let’s dive in to the last three minutes of this thing to see how the Mavs made it happen.
TYSON CHANDLER DEFENSE
In what’s becoming remarkably unremarkable, Tyson Chandler shut his man down with the game on the line. LaMarcus Aldridge had in part carried the Blazers offense through three quarters, but Chandler locked him down in the fourth quarter and overtime, limiting the All-NBA big man to just 2-of-7. The above play is just one of many in which Chandler forced Aldridge into a tough shot he probably didn’t want to be taking. This one, however, was big. If Aldridge makes it, the Blazers go up 13 and things are looking grim. Instead, the Mavs would shrink the deficit to eight just 14 seconds later on a Devin Harris three.
CHANDLER PARSONS OFFENSE
After a rushed Wes Matthews layup bounced out with 1:50 remaining, which would have put the Blazers up 10, the Mavs pushed the ball up the floor and it quickly found Chandler Parsons in the corner, who used his deadly pump fake to create some space for a corner three. Suddenly, Dallas was only down five. Parsons scored 10 points in overtime alone and hit multiple threes for the fifth time in his last six appearances. The Blazers would call a timeout to draw up a play for Damian Lillard, which would result in two free throws. Dirk would answer with a jumper, and then this happened.
DEVIN HARRIS DEFENSE AND OFFENSE
Harris deflected an errant Lillard pass to Monta Ellis, who then launched it up the floor to the streaking Harris for a layup. Every iota of momentum was now with the Mavericks, who had scrapped and clawed back from down 11 to down just three points in 49 seconds. A Lillard three-pointer at the other end would bounce out and the Mavericks would gear up for one more shot… only they actually found two. Ellis missed a three-pointer which fortunately bounced directly to Harris along the baseline. Dallas would reset and then find its legend.
DIRK NOWITZKI DIRK NOWITZKI-ING
Dirk slipped the screen, Ellis found him, and then That Dude did what That Dude does. Portland’s lead was gone, and all it took was about 90 seconds. Ellis would hold Lillard to another missed three-pointer at the other end, the game would head to overtime, and the rest is history.
The Mavericks needed a fair amount of luck to get back into this one. I think we can all agree on that. But the club’s aggression and execution played just as large a role in the comeback. Much like the type of improbable wins we saw during the 2010-11 season, this is a veteran team. Most of these guys have played 10 seasons or more in this league. They’ve been there, done that. That’s how you get to 25-0 when leading after three quarters, and that’s how you maintain composure when the game seems out of reach with less than three minutes left.
What we’re seeing is the development of this team on a mental level. These guys have learned to play with one another and they’ve learned to win games together. The unfortunate timing of the Rajon Rondo injury briefly threw the team for a loop, but the Mavs quickly adapted and had one of their finest moments in years last night. Playing like that is how you win the really meaningful games — the ones in April, May, and June.