This was a game the Dallas Mavericks likely won’t forget any time soon.
A game that could be a game-changer when the playoff seeds are handed out in mid-April.
Down 16 points early in the fourth quarter and still down 11 with under two minutes left, the Mavs hit a hot streak and wound up stunning the Portland Trail Blazers 111-101 in overtime before a boisterous sellout crowd of 20,398 Saturday night at American Airlines Center.
In running their record to 35-18 the Mavs finished the game on a 28-7 run, winning a game they know they probably had no business winning.
“We wouldn’t have drawn it up quite like this,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “When you’re down 16 and getting your [rear end] kicked, it’s not feeling like one of those nights at all.
“It’s feeling like more of the same. But the key thing in sports is just to keep fighting and stay persistent and keep believing in each other, and that’s what our guys did.”
The win was just the third against 11 losses for the Mavs against Western Conference teams that would be in the playoffs if the postseason started today.
And it took a yeoman’s effort by all of the Mavs, who were down 86-70 early in the fourth quarter and 94-83 with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
“Earning that win is one of the best wins we’ve had in the seven years that I’ve been here if you look at all the circumstance of the game,” Carlisle said. “But again, we got to take some strength from this and we got to build on it.”
Dirk Nowitzki’s 3-pointer with 20.5 seconds to go tied the game at 96-96, and Damian Lillard missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
With the momentum clearly on the Mavs’ side, Chandler Parsons scored 10 of his 20 points in the overtime session.
“There were openings for Parsons,” Carlisle said. “We were trying to get Dirk involved in the pick-and-roll with the switch as much as possible.
“But Parsons did a great job of just recognizing seams and attacking them.”
Parsons scored the Mavs’ final eight points on a drive, a jumper, two free throws and a tip-in. In all, it completed a night where the Mavs finally put on an impressive showing at home — and won — after having so many letdowns at the AAC.
“There were a few times during the game where we hung our heads a little bit when they were making plays,” Carlisle said. “But the last six minutes we were as strong as you can be mentally and physically.”
Portland led 25-24 after the first period and 55-50 at the half. With Seagoville native LaMarcus Aldridge scoring 13 of his 25 points in the third period, the Blazers toted an 83-70 lead into the final period.
But with the game seemingly slipping away, the Mavs mustered up some energy and are now in a virtual tie with the Blazers (34-17) for the fourth seed in the Western Conference.
“A lot of things had to go right for us and there had to be a lot of belief that we could still win, to keep fighting like that,” Carlisle said. “Our guys deserve credit for that.
“We had to basically pitch a shutout the last two minutes to get to overtime, and then we got some momentum.”
And with the momentum, fueled by 25 points from Nowitzki, 20 from Monta Ellis and stout defense by Tyson Chandler and Al-Farouq Aminu on Aldridge, the Mavs left the court knowing they had stolen one from the Blazers.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Carlisle said. “It’s a hard game and that’s a heavyweight team in the West.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760