Down and hanging by a thin thread, the Dallas Mavericks must have had a flashback and saw the same thing about to happen to them Tuesday night in Portland that happened to them Monday night in Sacramento.
The Mavs blew a 14-point first-half lead in losing to the Kings on Monday night. And they blew a 15-point lead in Portland on Tuesday night.
But instead of wilting when things went awry like they did against the Kings, the Mavs dug deep and pulled out an improbable 115-112 overtime victory against the Trail Blazers before a sellout crowd of 19,393 at the Moda Center.
The victory gave the Mavs (11-8) a split of their two-game road trip.
Deron Williams scored nine of his game-high 30 points in overtime and played a season-high 45 minutes while making 11-of-17 shots. It was the best game of the season for Williams, who also contributed eight assists, six rebounds and two blocked shots on two straight possessions by Portland with under a minute left in regulation.
“He’s one of the best players I’ve ever coached and I’m really happy to see him out there having fun playing the game and competing at a high level,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “That’s what he should be doing.
“He’s really getting a feel for what’s needed in our system. He knows of his importance to the team on the one hand, and on the other hand we have pretty good balance.”
Utilizing a lot of athleticism and some dead-eye 3-point shooting, Portland (7-12) led by 10 with under six minutes left, and by 96-89 with just 1:43 remaining in regulation and appeared to be well on their way to securing a victory. But the Mavs rushed back, kept making defensive stops, and then scored the necessary points to get the game into overtime.
Wesley Matthews, playing in his first game in Portland following five seasons with the Blazers, led the comeback with an offensive rebound put-back basket. Williams then blocked C. J. McCollum’s jumper and forced a 24-second shot clock violation.
At the other end, Dirk Nowitzki fired in a 3-pointer off a feed from Matthews to get the Mavs within 96-94 with 48.9 seconds left. Williams then responded by blocking Damian Lillard’s 17-footer.
That led to a wild sequence where Charlie Villanueva misfired on a 3-pointer, and Nowitzki tipped it in with 6 seconds left to tie the game at 96 apiece.
Lillard missed a long 3-pointer at the fourth-quarter buzzer, then Williams took over with his offense by scoring nine of the 19 points the Mavs tallied in overtime.
“We needed some stops and I just tried to stay in front of [McCollom and Lillard] as much as possible, and came up with some big defensive stops,” Williams said. “We just kept fighting.
“I don’t know where it came from, but I’m glad we had it tonight, I’m glad we showed this resilience and we were able to fight back and we didn’t lay down, because it was a game where on the road, the second night of a back-to-back, we had a lead early, lost it and just kind of never did find a good rhythm until the end. That says a lot about our team and about the fight we had.”
Williams exhibited that fight when he scored the first five points of overtime to put the Mavs up by five. After Nowitzki scored two straight baskets, Williams nailed a 3-pointer that sealed the game and increased the Mavs’ lead to 108-101 with 40.6 seconds remaining.
“It wasn’t easy, and we didn’t expect it to be,” Matthews said. “This team, they’ve got talent and they play hard above anything else.
“We knew we were going to have our work cut out for us. We didn’t play with the right intensity for the full 48 minutes against Sacramento and paid the price for that.”
Some early fireworks helped the Mavs jump out of the gate to a 20-5 lead with 6:41 left in the first quarter following a 19-foot jumper by Dwight Powell. But as they did against the Kings, the Mavs fell asleep at the wheel on both ends of the floor, and the Blazers seized the moment and almost walked away with a victory.
Although he got spun completely around on a whirlwind 3-point basket by McCollom, Nowitzki regrouped and finished with 28 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Zaza Pachulia registered his 11th double-double and had more rebounds (21) than the entire Portland starting lineup (19).
The Mavs, who played without Chandler Parsons, JaVale McGee and J.J. Barea, also received some meaningful contributions from Charlie Villanueva and Matthews. Villanueva collected 10 points, while Matthews, who received a warm and loud ovation during pregame introductions, finished with 18 points.
“It was amazing,” Matthews said of the reception. “I didn’t really know what to expect.
“I was trying to focus on the game. These fans have been amazing to me since I got here.”
The Mavs will fly home Wednesday and host Houston on Friday before leaving again to play at Washington on Sunday. That flight will be a bit more comfortable that they didn’t let what happen to them in Sacramento happen to them in Portland.
“We had to really dig deep there being down by 10,” Nowitzki said. “But I’m glad we pulled it off.”