Mavericks-Trail Blazers Preview
The Dallas Mavericks have put up points at an impressive clip during their winning streak despite their struggles right after halftime.
Finding a remedy to those third-quarter woes Thursday night could be difficult against a Portland Trail Blazers team which has been very good defensively in the second half.
The Mavericks head to Portland having won six of eight against the Blazers going into the opener of this season’s series.
Dallas (3-1) has averaged 115.7 points on 53.5 percent shooting in wins over Utah, New Orleans and Boston following a season-opening 101-100 loss at defending champion San Antonio. Offseason signing Chandler Parsons has played a key role during the win streak with 23.3 points per game on 56.8 percent shooting.
Parsons scored a season-high 29 on Monday, Dirk Nowitzki added 27 and they combined to sink 8 of 9 from 3-point range as Dallas held off the Celtics 118-113 after leading by as many as 30 points.
Two nights earlier, the Mavericks blew a 12-point lead in the third against the Pelicans. Dallas has averaged 67.3 first-half points in its three wins but has been outscored 135-88 in the third quarter. The Mavs are allowing an NBA-worst 33.8 points per game in the third.
Nowitzki and Parsons have combined to play 67 third-quarter minutes but have averaged just 6.8 points on 8-of-27 shooting.
"It’s concerning," Parsons said Monday after Boston trimmed a 26-point deficit to eight in the first 7:09 of the third. "I love how we never give up after we give up the lead. But we can’t allow these teams to keep coming back in and cutting the lead."
The Blazers (2-2) rank among the league’s top defensive teams after halftime, allowing averages of 41.5 points and 36.3 percent shooting. They’ve held their last two opponents below 20 points in the third.
Portland’s Damian Lillard failed to score more than 20 through three games – he averaged 20.7 last season – before breaking out with 27 points in Tuesday’s 101-82 home win over Cleveland. Lillard, who had been averaging 13.7 points and shooting 26.8 percent, made five 3-pointers and hit all 10 of his foul shots to tie a career best for most made free throws without a miss.
The All-Star has been playing through an abdominal strain.
"You don’t have to ask what’s wrong with Damian anymore," coach Terry Stotts said after his club avoided a third straight loss. "Actually, you don’t ever have to ask."
LaMarcus Aldridge finished with a season-low 16 points after scoring 25.0 per game in his first three. The All-Star forward has averaged 26.3 points and 10.6 rebounds in his last 13 games against the Mavericks.
Lillard totaled 24 points while missing 12 of 18 shots in the final two meetings last season – both in Dallas – but scored 32 in a 108-106 home loss to the Mavericks on Dec. 7.
Nowitzki countered with 30 points and Monta Ellis sank a 21-foot jumper as time expired to give Dallas its fourth victory in five trips to Portland, including Game 6 of the teams’ 2011 first-round playoff series.