Mavericks wrap up homestand against Trail Blazers
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It has been a roller-coaster ride for the Dallas Mavericks since they last faced the Portland Trail Blazers.
In the first two games of a three-game homestand that ends with the Trail Blazers visiting American Airlines Center on Friday night, the Mavs routed one playoff team (Washington) and were humbled by another (Houston).
The Blazers (26-22) got the best of the Mavericks in a 117-108 win on Jan. 20 in Portland, and they're closer to the Wizards than the Rockets in terms of talent level.
But the seventh-place team in the Western Conference does pose many of the same challenges the Mavs (16-32) witnessed firsthand in Wednesday night's 104-97 loss to the Rockets.
"We've got to shore some things up getting ready to play against Portland, which is a team that's similar (to Houston)," Mavs guard Wesley Matthews said. "They've got guys that can create their own shot and shoot the 3-ball as well. Portland beat us making 18 3s. Houston made 21, so obviously we've got to take the 3-ball out of the game.
"And with that just keep the ball moving on offense, keep playing hard, cutting hard, screening hard and keep believing."
Matthews, who played five years with the Trail Blazers, is coming off a season-high 29 points against the Rockets. He made 10 of 18 shots from the floor, including 7 of 14 3-pointers, in a game that wasn't as close as the final score. Houston led by as many as 20 in the fourth quarter.
"It doesn't matter what kind of game you have individually if you lose," Matthews said. "We've got to do better. This is obviously a very talented team. They shoot the ball, shoot the 3 well and they got hot early.
"We did some good things, though we were able to cut the lead to six and five, but we couldn't get over that hump."
Portland is coming off a 123-114 win over Minnesota behind 31 points from All-Star point guard Damian Lillard. The Blazers scored 43 in the third quarter to take control of the game.
Lillard called it the team's best quarter in at least two years.
"If we could just watch that whole quarter in training camp, (coaches) would say, 'This is how we want to play. This is how the ball needs to move. This is how we need to screen. This is the pace we need to have,'" he said. "And what's going to allow us to do it is defending the way we did.
"I think that was like a showcase. It was a great display of Blazer basketball."
Lillard also scored 31 on the strength of seven 3-pointers and added nine assists in the most recent meeting with Dallas. Portland shot 52.3 percent from the floor overall and connected on half of its 3-point tries (18-36).
The Mavs did have three players score at least 20 at Portland -- Matthews (23), Dirk Nowitzki (21) and Dennis Smith Jr. (21). Nowitzki, suffering from a stomach issue, played only 15 minutes against the Rockets.
Updated January 25, 2018