The Pinky says... Blazers are going down. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
In the early minutes, we saw offensive output from two players we’ve wanted to see the entire series. Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler both made their presence felt, with Tyson getting to the line and earning his points. He also out-rebounded everyone on the floor and got the home crowd involved early. About halfway through the quarter, however, the Mavericks hit a dry spell and despite forcing several turnovers, they were unable to capitalize. The Blazers scored the last eight points of the first quarter to take a five-point lead into the next period.
The second quarter started much as the first one ended, with the Blazers continuing to score. It took Dirk Nowitzki getting to the line and Jose Barea getting to the hoop to spark the offense back to life. One surprising contributor, though he has been pretty alright this series, was Brendan Haywood. He got a few blocked shots and even got himself an and-1. Which he completed, for a change. Jason Terry capped a 15-4 run by the Mavericks with a go-ahead three.
On the next offensive possession Peja Stojakovic hit from long, and the Mavericks looked confident. Alas, it would not last, because the Blazers are good at basketball. They went on a 12-2 run of their own as the quarter wound down. Not to be embarrassed on their own floor, the Mavericks regained some footing on the shoulders of Marion, whose defense created opportunities on the offensive end. They went into the locker room up by one.
The third quarter was fun to watch because both teams were playing solid basketball. They seem to have the same gameplan- get stops and play transition basketball. They were both succeeding so no one could really pull away by much at first. The Mavericks did a good job of getting to the line, as well as breaking up Portland’s plays and taking the ball strong on the other end.
And who do you think spent the most time behind the charity stripe? That’s right, Mr. Nowitzki took it hard to the hoop and drew the contact time and time again, helping the Mavs pull away. Also helping the cause was the rarely seen but sorely needed offensive rebound. Dallas crashed the offensive boards to excellent results- second chance points. Heading into the final period, the Mavericks built up a comfortable lead with the game’s momentum on their side.
The fourth quarter began with the Mavericks being aggressive on both ends of the floor. Tyson Chandler was hauling in the offensive boards and getting to the line, and Jason Terry was hitting his typical jump shots. After Brandon Roy was knocked over with no foul called, Nate McMillan was called for a technical foul and the Mavericks went on a 12-4 run. The Blazers couldn’t seem to hit anything from beyond the arc, and as a result the Mavericks could clog the paint and play tight defense inside. At one point, the Blazers went 1 of 13 from the field and the Mavericks, for once, took advantage of poor shooting and built themselves a big lead. They walked off the court winners, despite having hung their heads a mere two nights prior. That ability to rebound (double entendre) could be the thing that gets them out of this series alive.
The player of the game tonight was Tyson Chandler, who scored 14 points and pulled in 20 rebounds, 13 of which were on the offensive end. Dirk Nowitzki, our superstar who seems hell bent on shedding his 'soft' reputation, had 25 points and eight rebounds. The two big men accounted for 23 of the 35 trips to the free throw line for the Mavericks. Doing his point guard voo doo magic was Jason Kidd, who registered more assists (14) than the entire Portland team (13). Shawn Marion contributed 14 points and four steals, and Jason Terry quietly scored a solid 20 points off the bench to round out the list of players in double figures.
Game six, in Portland, will be this Thursday at a time that has yet to be determined.