Blazers enjoy this episode of Dallas
PORTLAND — Whether it was a knee surgery, an indefinite sidelining, or an avalanche of condemnation from those who said he’d never be the same — Blazers guard Brandon Roy has pummeled through challenges one after another this season.
But Tuesday night in the Rose Garden, he may have issued himself the toughest one yet when he said this: “I try to stay even keel with everything going on.”
Stay even keel, huh?
It’s tough to suppress your highs when you beat the Mavericks 104-101 like the Blazers did Tuesday. It can’t be easy for Roy flat-line his emotions when he scores 21 points in 27 minutes, resembling his former All-Star self as much as he has all season.
And considering Portland has gone 5-0 in its most recent meetings against San Antonio, Chicago, Miami, Orlando and Dallas — there can’t be much this team can do to prevent its adrenaline from bursting through the dam.
Comments such as these from NBA TV analyst Chris Webber aren’t helping: “The Blazers will upset whoever they play in the first round of the playoffs.”
A touch over-reactionary? Maybe so. Especially seeing how Tuesday’s victory seemed anything but inevitable in the opening quarter.
The Mavericks began by hitting their first 11 attempts from the field, and shot 73.7 percent through the first 12 minutes. Dirk Nowitzki went without a miss. Jason Kidd had already tallied seven assists.
And yet…the Blazers were down only three.
What took place over the next three periods may have increased the rest of the Western Conference’s heart-rate by a beat or two per minute.
LaMarcus Aldridge shined once again for the Blazers, scoring a game-high 30 points on 13 of 25 from the field. The man LeBron James called “the biggest snub in All-Star history” is averaging 33.7 points in his past four home games against the power forwards who made the All-Star team in the West.
His final bucket Tuesday came on a thunderous dunk assisted by Rudy Fernandez with just under four-minutes to go, a play, an open-court finish the big man said was quite reflective of the team’s defensive approach.
“Coach (Nate McMillan) said we were a bunch of guys with no chests,” said Aldridge, referring to the Blazers being skinnier than most NBA rosters. “We had to rely on our quickness.”
Wesley Matthews added 18 points for Portland (38-29) while
Fernandez chipped in 12 on 4 of 7 shooting.
But Roy was the evening’s emcee.
The news before the game revolved around Gerald Wallace replacing center Marcus Camby in the starting lineup. The news after the game circled around who starred in the finishing lineup.
Roy scored 17 of his points in the second half and 10 in the final quarter — slithering his way to the hoop, knocking down 10-foot fadeaways and draining step-back jumpers. He made 9 of his 17 shots on the night, but the biggest one came with 48 seconds left, when he scored on a seven-foot pull-up to put the Blazers up by five.
Matthews said that Roy “looked like the 08-09 Brandon.” McMillan said it was the best Roy had looked all year.
As for Roy’s thoughts?
“Being able to play well tonight was great,” Roy said. “It’s good to be back in a moment like that, but the biggest thing is to continue to build.”
One conspicuous absence from the floor in the fourth quarter was Blazers point guard Andre Miller, who’s built a reputation as a guy Portland can rely on in the closing minutes. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t on his feet for much of the final period.
“I don’t care (about not playing). This is the time in the season where you need everybody to contribute,” Miller said. “There are going to be nights where guys are going to get opportunities to step up. You just support them and move onto the next night.”
Nowitzki finished with 28 points for Dallas (47-20), which fell to third place in the Western Conference. The Blazers next play Thursday against Cleveland at the Rose Garden.
Matt Calkins can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or firstname.lastname@example.org