Nothing has been easy for the Dallas Mavericks this season. That included Sunday night against the Portland Trail Blazers, as Dallas managed to squander a 22 point lead in the second half before managing to hold on for the win, 96-91.
Chris Kaman led the way with a double-double, racking up 26 points and 11 rebounds. The center has started to improve after a dismal March.
Shawn Marion added 20 points, including a layup as time expired that Rick Carlisle looked none too pleased about him taking. Marion’s defense was key in the waning seconds, as he forced Damian Lillard off the three-point line with Dallas up 94-91. Lillard missed the layup, and a scramble for the rebound resulted in an outlet pass from O.J. Mayo to Marion as the clock expired.
Something to keep an eye on is Dirk Nowitzki‘s absence in the fourth quarter. Nowitzki remained on the bench throughout the final period as he watched Portland win the fourth quarter 30-15. Portland came to within three points after being down by 2o to start the fourth quarter.
After the game, Carlisle mentioned that Dirk’s foot was hurting, and that’s why he was held out of the game down the stretch. Nowitzki ended up with just six points and five rebounds in 24 minutes of play, shooting just 2-of-7 from the floor. Dirk hasn’t been great in April so far, averaging only 11.5 points in four games this month.
Rookie Will Barton led the way for Portland with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
With the win, the Mavericks pull to within two games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the ninth spot in the Western Conference, and two and a half games behind the Utah Jazz for the final playoff spot.
The playoffs are still a longshot at this point, and Mavericks fans should prepare themselves for a long offseason.
You can follow Jamie on Twitter at @thedsportsrant.