Mavs Eliminate Blazers

Dallas defeats Portland 103-96 to win first-round playoff series

Dirk Nowitzki had 33 points and 11 rebounds, and the Dallas Mavericks withstood a furious Portland comeback to beat the Trail Blazers 103-96 Thursday night and take the first-round playoff series in six games.

The Mavericks advanced to face the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, who beat New Orleans 98-80 Thursday night to take that first-round series.

Jason Terry finished with 22 points as the Mavericks snapped the home-court advantage that each team had held during the playoffs and the regular season.

The Blazers led by as many as 12 points early after Gerald Wallace went on a tear with 13 first-quarter points. But Wallace left the game for much of the second quarter with a sore back and Portland surrendered the lead.

Wallace would return to finish with 32 points and 12 rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge added 24 points and 10 rebounds.

Wallace's fast-break dunk narrowed it to 86-85 with 5:24 to go, but Jason Kidd answered with a 3-pointer and Terry added a step-back jumper to keep the Mavericks out front 91-85 with 4:04 left.

After Wallace made a pair of free throws, Aldridge missed two for Portland and Shawn Marion's hook made it 93-87 for Dallas.

Terry added a jumper to put the Mavs ahead 95-89 with 1:42 to go and time ran out on Portland's comeback.

The Mavericks, known recently for wilting in the playoffs, had been eliminated in the first round in three of the last four seasons.

One of the reasons is that they've had trouble on the road. Since the start of the 2006 NBA finals -- which the Mavs lost in six games to Miami after taking a 2-0 series lead -- Dallas had gone just 2-18 on the road in the postseason.

But the Mavericks avoided another road loss Thursday night, even though at first it looked bleak.

Led by Wallace, the Blazers jumped out to 19-7 lead, capping the quarter with a dunk from rookie Chris Johnson to make it 27-19.

But the Blazers went cold when Wallace headed to the locker room with lower back tightness, and the Mavericks went on a 16-4 run to tie it at 35 after J.J. Barea's layup.

Dallas extended the lead to 47-41 on Nowitzki's dunk with 1:10 left, and the Mavs closed the half ahead 52-43 after Terry's 3-pointer.

Nowitzki finished the first half with 19 points.

Marion's dunk made it 56-45 for Dallas early in the second half and the Rose Garden crowd was uncharacteristically silenced.

Wallace, who returned in the second half, narrowed it to 59-51 with a jumper midway through the third quarter. But the Blazers couldn't get any closer and Terry's pull-up jumper put Dallas ahead 56-73.

Portland pulled within 77-71 early in the final quarter on Rudy Fernandez's 3-pointer and a pair of free throws from Aldridge.

Third-seeded Dallas took control of the series with a 93-82 victory at American Airlines Center on Monday night in Game 5.

Sixth-seeded Portland had evened the series at two games apiece when Brandon Roy led his team on a stunning comeback for an 84-82 Game 4 victory on Saturday. The three-time All-Star who had been troubled by his knees all season and was playing off the bench, finished with 24 points, with 18 of those coming in the fourth quarter to lift the Blazers from a 23-point deficit.

Portland has never been able to win a playoff series after falling behind 3-2. They've been bounced from the first round for three straight seasons.

Notes: The Mavericks activated reserve guard Rodrigue Beaubois, who had not appeared in the playoff because of a sprained left foot. ... Johnson was the defensive player of the year in the NBA D-League.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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