Outworked Blazers lose a Game 5 'we didn't deserve to win'
- Kerry Eggers
- Portland Tribune - News
DALLAS - The Trail Blazers got outplayed Monday night at the American Airlines Center. More than that, they got outworked.
Dallas parlayed a huge advantage on the boards and at the free-throw line to a 93-82 victory in a game that was more one-sided than the final count indicates.
The victory gives the Mavericks a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven first-round playoff series, which continues with Game 6 Thursday night at the Rose Garden.
Instead of returning home with a chance to close out the series, Portland is one loss from first-round elimination for the third straight year.
'It was a big game in that sense,' Portland coach Nate McMillan said, 'but we're still alive.'
The Blazers have a pulse, but it's much weaker than it was after Saturday's pulsating 84-82 victory that squared the series at 2-2. The Mavericks saw to that.
'We were really anxious to get to this game,' said Dallas guard Jason Terry, who scored 20 points off the bench. 'We wanted to go out and prove to everyone that we let that game slip away, and it was not going to happen on our homecourt. And it's not going to happen again.'
For it to happen again at American Airlines Center this season, the Blazers will have to win Game 6. And they'll have to accomplish much more than they did Monday night.
'We didn't play well tonight,' McMillan said. 'We didn't deserve to win this game. They outplayed us. They were the aggressors.
'We talked about not allowing this team have a big first or third quarter. They had a big third quarter. When they get into their rhythm, it's tough to stop them, and offensively they got to that rhythm the second half.'
Dallas scored the final seven points of the second quarter to take a 44-43 lead at halftime. The Mavericks' lead was still a precarious 56-55 midway through the third quarter. Over the next 14 minutes, they outscored the Blazers 35-16 to take a 91-71 advantage, and the hay was in the barn.
Dirk Nowitzki (25 points, 8 rebounds), Jason Kidd (14 assists, 7 rebounds, 4 points), Shawn Marion (14 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 blocked shots) and Terry all had productive games for Dallas. But nobody was bigger than Tyson Chandler, who went from underwhelming in the first four games to overwhelming Monday night.
The 7-foot center, who entered the game averaging 4.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in the series, scored 14 points and grabbed 20 rebounds, including a career-best and franchise playoff-best 13 off the offensive glass.
'Tyson had great activity at both ends,' Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. 'His offensive rebounding was phenomenal. He contributed a lot to our (17) second-chance points.
'Every time he tips (a rebound) out and we get it back, the crowd gets into it, and it makes a huge difference. He hadn't been able to get his scoring going; tonight he was able to do that.'
'Tyson put his stamp on the game very early on, with offensive rebounds and tap-outs,' said Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge, who had a quiet 12 points and 9 boards in 41 minutes. 'He played motivated tonight.'
'I wanted to do whatever it takes to win,' said Chandler, who had been in foul trouble much of the series and had averaged only 26.3 minutes per game. "I knew my team would need me after such a bad loss (in Game 4); it could roll over into the next game.
'I wanted to put Portland behind the 8-ball. I wanted to come out with energy and hoped my teammates would feed off of it.'
Chandler's heavy lifting allowed Dallas to hold a 49-37 rebound advantage. The aggressive attitude he championed was a big part of why the Mavericks owned the foul line, making 26 of 35 attempts to 14 of 19 for Portland.
'They dominated the boards,' McMillan said. 'Those boards led to fouls and also allowed them to get into the penalty early. And they dominated the free-throw line.'
'We missed a lot of shots, and that led to a lot of their rebounds,' Portland center Marcus Camby said. 'We didn't do a good job of controlling the glass at either end. And our inability to get to the line and get some easy points was the ballgame.'
Borrowing a page from Camby, Chandler five times tapped rebounds out to teammates on the perimeter.
'I know how bad it feels when we're on the other end of it,' Chandler said. 'It's demoralizing. And when you give up a second shot, most of the time (the opponent is) going to make it.'
'He was stealing my stuff a little bit by punching the ball out of there,' Camby said. 'He did a good job of keeping the ball alive.
'He played way more minutes than me (35 to 20). I didn't have a lot of opportunities to get out there and rebound and scrap. He was in the right position at the right time.'
Dallas played a good deal of zone defense for the first time in the series, in part to get help on Brandon Roy, who came up big for Portland in Games 3 and 4. Roy wasn't much of a factor, finishing with five points, three rebounds and two assists in 26 minutes. He made 2 of 7 shots from the field.
'Our activity in the zone was terrific,' Carlisle said. 'We know how important (Roy) is to them. We wanted to give (the zone) a hard look. Being at home, it was the right time to give it a shot. Our activity was real good, and it was something different.'
McMillan felt the zone's success was more about the Blazers than the Mavericks.
'It worked for a few possessions, and they stayed with it,' McMillan said. 'They felt it disrupted us. But (if) we score against the zone once or twice, they get out of it.'
Roy was kicking himself afterward for not looking for his shot more.
'I was getting to good spots and trying to hit the open man,' he said. 'Coach was saying, 'Yeah, but I think we're better when you're just aggressive trying to score.' I was trying to balance the two of them. There were plays where we had guys wide open, and I was thinking, 'OK, I'm going to hit them.'
'They were doing some other things to try to slow me down, like showing on the pick-and-roll. They did a good job of adjusting, but I just have to be aggressive. I have to stay with looking to score a little more.'
Andre Miller was aggressive, sinking 8 of 14 shots en route to an 18-point, seven-assist performance. Nicolas Batum was effective off the bench with 12 points, four rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 31 minutes off the bench. Other than that, the Blazers had nobody in sync.
'We just were not calm in getting to our spots offensively against their man and their zone,' McMillan said. 'We didn't get to our spots and execute and attack.'
The Blazers were making no excuses. They weren't offering any complaints about the officiating.
'Both teams were playing hard,' Camby said. 'They got the benefit of the whistle because they were more aggressive than we were. We need to be just as aggressive (as the Mavericks), if not more, Thursday night.'
When it was suggested the Mavericks went into the game feeling as if they had to win, Aldridge shook his head.
'Both teams had to have it,' he said.
The Mavericks got it.
Through nine regular-season and playoff games in the series this season, the home team has won every time. Any idea the reason for that, McMillan was asked?
The coach didn't answer the question, instead offering this:
'Let's hope it stays that way for us, that we can continue to defend homecourt.'
NOTES: McMillan was whistled for a third-quarter technical foul, complaining about what appeared to be a foul by Marion as he took the ball from Roy. ... Dallas outscored Portland 31-20 in the third quarter. ... At halftime, Dallas was 10 for 14 from the line, Portland 0 for 1 - the one attempt coming off a defensive three seconds call. With five minutes left in the third quarter, the Mavericks were 19 for 26, the Blazers 3 for 8. ... Chandler finished the game 8 for 12, Nowitzki 9 for 11 on foul shots. 'The more Dirk gets to the line,' Carlisle said, 'the better we're going to be.' ... The teams finished with the same number of field goals - 32. And Portland was even slightly better from 3-point range - 4 for 16 (.250) to 3 for 17 (.188). ... Dallas had seven turnovers in the first quarter, six the rest of the game. ... The Mavericks' starting front line outscored its Portland counterparts 53-32. ... Blazer forward Gerald Wallace had 16 points and 9 rebounds, but 10 of his points came in the fourth quarter after the issue was all but decided.