PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – The Dallas Mavericks recovered from the embarrassment of squandering a 23-point lead against the Trail Blazers, taking command of their first-round playoff series with a determined victory at home.
Now they must break this season’s losing tradition at the Rose Garden.
The third-seeded Mavs hold a 3-2 advantage in the series that shifts back to Portland on Thursday. Dallas got control of the series with a 93-82 victory at home on Monday.
The Mavericks have yet to win in Portland this season. Both teams held home court in four meetings during the regular season, and both have stayed that course in the playoffs.
Sixth-seeded Portland’s most recent win in the series was Saturday, when Brandon Roy led his team from a 67-44 deficit late in the third quarter to a 84-82 victory.
It was important for the Mavs to put that game behind them.
“Yeah, it was a frustrating loss, but we have a lot of veterans who have been through a lot and seen a lot,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “You want to close it out when you get a chance. They got us twice up there, but we’ve been a good road team all year.”
The Mavs were 28-13 on the road during the regular season, matching the Miami Heat for the league’s best. Dallas topped the league the previous season at 27-14.
Since the start of the 2006 NBA Finals — which the Mavs lost in seven games to Miami after taking a 2-0 series lead — Dallas has gone just 2-18 on the road in the postseason.
Dallas has been eliminated in the first round in three of the past four seasons.
Portland, meanwhile, has won 12 of its last 13 games at the Rose Garden. Overall against the Mavericks, the Blazers are 46-18 all-time in Portland, and 8-1 in playoff games.
Portland center Marcus Camby was not putting too much stock in those numbers for Game 6.
“We can’t really on being home as a cure-all,” he said. “We have to play a whole lot better.”
The Blazers have been drummed from the playoffs in the first round for the past two seasons.
In Dallas, the Mavs seemed to find an answer for Roy, who was heralded after he scored 24 points in Game 4, including 18 in the Blazers’ stunning fourth-quarter comeback.
Roy had struggled earlier in the season with knee trouble, the result of too little cartilage between bones. He finally underwent arthroscopic surgery in January, and the three-time All-Star — for years the face of the franchise — was relegated to a bench role.
On Monday, the Mavericks limited Roy to five points in just over 26 minutes.
“They didn’t really make an adjustment, other than a change in defense. They went zone, the zone worked for a few possessions and they stayed with it,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. “They felt that it had disrupted us, and they stayed with it.”
In addition to the zone, Portland has had trouble all series long against the Mavericks’ pick-and-roll. And the Blazers’ top scorer, LaMarcus Aldridge, has seen his point total diminish from a high of 27 points in Game 1 to just 12 in Game 5.
Roy suspects the Mavs won’t make it any easier in Game 6.
“We can’t just go home and expect to play well. We have to play like it’s our last game,” Roy said. “Our fans have been great, but we were down 20-something points. We have to show we want it.”
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