Dallas shakes off playoff jinx
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Dallas Mavericks decided they were going to treat Game 6 of their first-round playoff series against the Trail Blazers as if it were Game 7.
“We talked about it before, we talked about it again during the game, how we had to keep fighting,’’ said Dirk Nowitzki, who had 33 points and 11 rebounds as the Mavericks held off Portland, 103-96, Thursday night to advance to a second-round matchup with the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Nowitzki said it was too soon to say whether the six-game victory over the Blazers was enough to wipe away the struggles that the Mavericks have had in the playoffs for the past several years.
Dallas has been knocked for lacking toughness. Before this season, the Mavericks had won just a single playoff series since reaching the NBA Finals for the first and only time in 2006. They’d been bounced from the first round in three of the previous four years.
“We’re such a confident team,’’ guard Jason Terry said. “We have so many veteran guys, starting at the top with Jason Kidd on down to Dirk, that we believe. Especially in close ballgames, we’ve been winning them all season long. So we’re confident.’’
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 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.