Mavericks-Trail Blazers Preview

After beating two of the best teams in the NBA, the red-hot

Portland Trail Blazers easily got by the league’s worst club their

last time out.

Unfortunately for the Dallas Mavericks, they’re up next.

Coming off its highest scoring display of the season, Portland

goes for a ninth consecutive home win Saturday night against

Dallas.

While some may have been skeptical of the Blazers’ incredible

start, beating Indiana and Oklahoma City early this week surely

silenced any critics. Portland (17-3) kept things going Friday with

a 130-98 rout of Utah, its 15th win in 16 games.

Wesley Matthews and Damian Lillard combined for 45 points on

15-of-20 shooting, including 9 of 12 from 3-point range. The

Blazers went a franchise-best 17 of 23 from beyond the arc (73.9

percent), setting an NBA record for any team with at least 20

attempts.

“We were feeling it,” Matthews said.

Lillard ranks second in the NBA with 57 made 3s, and Matthews is

third with 56. Matthews also ranks third in 3-point percentage at

50.9.

Portland has made 78 of 171 (45.6 percent) from 3-point range

during its eight-game home winning streak.

“Our three-point shooters are good,” coach Terry Stotts told the

league’s official website. “You don’t expect to shoot that well,

but our threes are taken in rhythm. They’re good shots for the guys

taking them. When those guys are taking open threes, there’s a good

chance they’re going in.”

LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 points and 15 rebounds as the Blazers

held a 50-39 edge on the glass. The Blazers are 17-0 when Aldridge,

averaging a career-high 10.0 boards, pulls down at least six.

While the Mavericks appear to have a tough task ahead of them,

they’re seeking a third straight win after beating New Orleans

100-97 on Wednesday. Dallas was outrebounded 58-38 but found a way

to close one out in the opener of a four-game road trip.

“It could have gone either way,” said Dirk Nowitzki, who scored

11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter. “Finally we were on the

other end one time in execution and getting some stops. … It’s

not very often you win on the road getting pounded on the glass by

20 boards. But we’ll definitely take it.”

Five other players scored in double figures for Dallas,

including Vince Carter with 15 off the bench and Monta Ellis with

14.

“We have a lot of guys doing a lot of things to try to take the

pressure off of him so he doesn’t feel he has to put up big numbers

every quarter,” Carter said. “It can wear him down. Now fourth

quarter he can do what he does best.”

Ellis also matched a season high with 10 assists as the

Mavericks improved to 11-1 when he dishes out at least five. He is

averaging 4.4 on the road compared to 6.8 at home.

Nowitzki’s career average of 20.5 points versus Portland is his

second-lowest against any opponent. He was limited to 11.0 on 34.6

percent shooting in the last two meetings, both Dallas wins.

The Mavericks have taken four of five from the Blazers,

including two of three in Portland.

Aldridge has averaged 24.9 points in his last 15 against Dallas.

Lillard, though, was held to 14.3 per game and 28.3 percent

shooting in the four matchups last season.