Other than not having two of their regular players available due to injuries, Wednesday turned into a very productive night for the Dallas Mavericks.
With a thorough 114-98 triumph over the Portland Trail Blazers before a sellout crowd of 20,353 at American Airlines Center, the Mavs accomplished their goal of winning 50 games for the first time since their 2010-11 championship season. And after this regular season finale was in the books, the Mavs discovered some more joyful news, which made for a restful night.
Because of the New Orleans Pelicans’ stunning 108-103 win over San Antonio — coupled with Houston’s 117-91 victory over the Utah Jazz — the Mavs will face the Rockets in the first round of the playoffs instead of facing the defending NBA champion Spurs.
Although the Mavs were only 1-3 against Houston, Dallas felt as though it was at a huge disadvantage since it was playing back-to-back in all four games.
Before turning their attention to the Rockets, the Mavs discussed how they were focused on beating the Blazers. The Mavs opened a 21-8 lead with 4:54 to go in the first quarter after a pair of free throws by Richard Jefferson.
“It was a game that we came locked in from the start,” said center Tyson Chandler, who had 15 rebounds and a season-high-tying 22 points. “We wanted to get the 50th win for this franchise.
“We’ve had a lot of success over the years and we want that to continue, and also we wanted to go in [the playoffs] healthy and on a good note going into the playoffs.”
In addition to the fast start, the good vibes for the Mavs continued when they used a 15-0 run to start the third quarter to widen their 56-51 halftime lead to 71-51 less than four minutes into the third period.
The Blazers (51-31) never made a serious threat after that, as the Mavs shot 45.3 percent from the field and won the rebounding battle 54-45 while going to the postseason with wins in four of their last five games.
“He got us going and then as the game went on I thought we got better,” coach Rick Carlisle said of Chandler, who registered his 31st double-double of the season. “We had some lapses where we didn’t play particularly great, but we got it done.
“The guys wanted to win 50, and Portland is no pushover, even without some of their main guys. We had to play, but we got that done and now it is basically starting from scratch.”
Besides Chandler, the Mavs got 16 points from Dirk Nowitzki, 15 from Monta Ellis, 13 points in 18 workmanlike minutes from Amar’e Stoudemire, and 10 points from Raymond Felton. It was a balanced attack by the Mavs, who played without injured players Chandler Parsons (knee) and Devin Harris (toe).
“It’s going to be exciting,” said forward Charlie Villanueva, who is in the playoffs for the first time in his 10-year career. “I can’t wait.”
Neither can the Mavs.
“It’s always a plus to see that when you’re part of a team that got 50-plus wins,” Felton said. “That was one of our goals this season, and that was one of our goals definitely here towards the end, and we accomplished that.
“Now all of that is gone now, the season is over, it’s the postseason now, and it’s time to lock in. All the bumps and bruises, the injuries and everything that we went through this year, now it’s time to clean all that up, get everybody healthy and get ready to go down to Houston and make this a series.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760
First-round playoff matchup
7. Dallas Mavericks vs. 2. Houston Rockets
Saturday: Dallas at Houston, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Tuesday: Dallas at Houston, 8:30 p.m., TNT
April 24: Houston at Dallas, 6 p.m., ESPN
April 26: Houston at Dallas, 8:30 p.m., TNT
x-April 28: Dallas at Houston, TBA
x-April 30: Houston at Dallas, TBA
x-May 2: Dallas at Houston, TBA
1988: First round, Mavericks 3, Rockets 1. Dallas advances despite Hakeem Olajuwon averaging 37.5 points and 17 rebounds in the series.
2005: First round, Mavericks 4, Rockets 3. Visiting teams won the first four games of the series before Mavs clinched at home behind Jason Terry’s 31 points.
The Rockets won three of four from the Mavericks this season:
Nov. 22: at Rockets 95, Mavericks 92
Jan. 28: at Rockets 99, Mavericks 94
Feb. 20: at Mavericks 111, Rockets 100
April 2: Rockets 108, at Mavericks 101