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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Needing a win against the team chasing them in the Western Conference, the Portland Trail Blazers turned in one of their most balanced efforts of the season.
Damian Lillard had 27 points, one of seven Blazers to reach double figures in scoring, and Portland defeated the Dallas Mavericks 109-103 on Wednesday night to remain in sixth place in the West.
“I liked our resilience bouncing back from last game,” said Blazers coach Terry Stotts, referring to an overtime loss at Dallas on Sunday. “This was certainly a game we needed to have.”
Former Blazers guard Wesley Matthews paced the Mavericks with 22 points. Salah Mejri, making his fourth start of the season, added 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points.
Dallas fell into a tie with Utah for seventh in the West, and has lost eight of 11.
“We didn’t shoot particularly well,” Matthews said. “But 17 turnovers, and how we turned it over, was fueling their break. They’re a tough team when you give them possessions like that.”
Maurice Harkless, starting for just the fourth time all season, gave the Blazers an athletic presence in the frontcourt and had 14 points, four rebounds, two assists, a steal and a blocked shot in 25 minutes.
“Mo was huge for us at both ends of the floor with his length and athleticism,” said Lillard, who also had six rebounds and six assists. “He disturbed a lot of the things they wanted to do early, then he got out and ran, got easy baskets and brought energy to the game.”
Ed Davis had 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting off the bench for the Blazers, all in the first half, and grabbed nine rebounds. C.J. McCollum had 14 points and Mason Plumlee, Al-Farouq Aminu and Gerald Henderson each scored 10. Aminu also had 10 rebounds.
“Ed gave us a lot of second-chance opportunities,” Lillard said. “He was a monster on the glass and in the paint he was finishing.”
Dallas made the game interesting with a late push to trim a 15-point deficit to five with 12.3 seconds left, but the Blazers made five of their six free throws down the stretch to hang on for the victory.
“The game was very well contested by both teams,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “The turnovers were a big problem. They were a big problem from the beginning. Seventeen for 22 points is too many.”
Lillard sparked a late second-quarter run with six points in the final 1:35 to help Portland regain a lead it would never give back. The Blazers put some distance between them and Dallas with an 8-0 spurt in the third quarter, with the Mavericks using two timeouts to try to quell the outburst.
Both teams went deep into their benches in the first half, using 10 players apiece as the coaches tried to find an advantage through matchups with frequent substitutions and timeouts.
An already intense game, things heated up even more with 1:53 to go in the half when McCollum fouled Deron Williams, and then inadvertently clipped Williams’ leg.
The Dallas point guard, who finished with 12 points and 11 assists, took exception and got into McCollum’s face, resulting in a double technical. Less than 20 seconds later, Mejri picked up a technical for arguing with an official. So did Carlisle, who was whistled in the third arguing a no-call on David Lee.
J.J. Barea received a technical in the fourth quarter for slapping Henderson’s hand away.
Fans at the Moda Center had decidedly mixed reactions to two former Blazers in the Dallas starting lineup. Matthews, who left via free agency in the offseason after five productive seasons in Rip City, received a loud, sustained ovation during introductions. His backcourt mate, Raymond Felton, heard differently. Felton, who spent a subpar 2011-12 season in Portland, was booed loudly and frequently.
Mavericks: Wednesday’s game was the start of a four-game road swing. Of Dallas’ final 12 games of the regular season, eight are on the road. … Mejri started after a dominating performance against the Blazers on Sunday. Mejri had 13 points and a season-high 14 rebounds, and six blocks in the overtime win.
Trail Blazers: After a trip to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Thursday, Portland concludes its regular season with seven of nine at home. The Blazers’ game in Dallas on Sunday wrapped up a stretch of 11 out of 13 on the road. . F/C Meyers Leonard missed his fourth consecutive game with a left shoulder injury. . Harkless started in place of Noah Vonleh.
Mavericks: At Golden State on Friday.
Trail Blazers: At Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.
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