Blazers Eliminated By Mavs

Random thoughts on the Blazers’ 4-2 series loss to Dallas:

— More than anything, the series gave me an appreciation of how great Dirk Nowitzki is. Not only is he a great player, but he would be entertaining to watch for 82 games a year. Isn’t that the most important thing?

— LaMarcus Aldridge had 19 field-goal attempts before he shot a free throw. From my column on the game: “When the stakes were highest, Aldridge was content to take shots that didn’t get him to the free-throw line, didn’t put him in rebounding position, and didn’t force defensive reactions that would leave teammates open for shots or rebounds.”

The column is primarily about Portland’s lack of outside shooting. It just as easily could have been about how Aldridge had about the least-impressive 24-point game I’ve ever seen.

— For some reason, Wesley Matthews doesn’t register in my mind as a 3-point threat. That’s patently unfair, considering he made 154 of them during the season and shot 41 percent. Maybe it’s because his shot isn’t a textbook jumper. But with Andre Miller, Gerald Wallace, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Marcus Camby in the lineup, even if you count Matthews as a 3-point shooter, the Blazers don’t seem to present much of a threat from long range.

But maybe that’s just perception, and maybe that’s just me. Portland was 13th in the league in 3-pointers made during the regular season, even if they were 21st in percentage. But they sure couldn’t buy one Thursday.

— Here’s the game story from Matt Calkins.

— That was one incredible performance by Kevin Durant on Wednesday. Has nothing to do with the Blazers, but I thought I would mention it.

Look at the play-by-play for the final 3:23. I’ll save you the trouble: Thunder outscore Nuggets 18-6 while Durant has 14 points and assists on a 3-pointer, goes 5 of 6 from the field, scores OKC’s final nine points, and blocks a potential game-tying shot with nine seconds to play.

— With Portland leading 33-25 at the 8:39 mark of the second quarter, Chris Johnson was whistled for a flagrant foul on Nowitzki. Dallas immediately went on a 10-2 run that tied the game. The foul might have changed the momentum, but the real key was this: During the timeout before the free throws, the Blazer Dancers performed to a Nickelback song. Bad move. Can anything invite bad karma more than a Nickelback song?

— So, what do the Blazers do now? Who goes? Who stays? What are they missing? We’ll talk about that in the days to come.

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