DALLAS -- Winning a road game is always fun. But winning a road game by a single point on a last-second shot for your first one-point win of the season is even better.
The Trail Blazers rode CJ McCollum's 16-foot floater in the lane with just three-tenths of a second on the clock for a tense 114-113 win over the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night in a game that featured a whopping four ties and 12 lead changes in the final quarter. And, of course, some vintage Dirk Nowitzki three-point shooting.
Nowitzki, who became the NBA's 10th-leading all-time scorer during this game, hit two high-arching threes inside the final 39 seconds to give Dallas leads. But McCollum took an inbound pass and fought off Wesley Matthews trying to ride him down the lane to hit a perfectly beautiful floater that nestled into the net with :00.3 showing on the game clock.
McCollum was definitely fouled on the play, perhaps by both Matthews and Harrison Barnes, but he shook it off. "There is always contact late in the game," he said. "If I was Kobe, I would have gotten the call. But being me, I figured they wouldn't call it so I had to play through it."
McCollum replayed the whole thing upon request for the media afterward:
"I caught the ball with about three seconds left, close to the sideline. I know that Wes (Matthews) in late-game situations likes to press up on guys. Once I caught it, I knew I was going to attack right away. I had seen Harrison Barnes coming from the left side so I just threw the ball up there and tried to split, get to the free-throw line area and get to my sweet spot. I got there and knew it was a shot I was comfortable with. So I had a good feeling it would go in.
"This is a game we really needed to have, so down the stretch I was just trying to be aggressive, execute and make plays."
The Blazers needed this one to square their season series with the Mavericks at two games apiece. And to tag another loss on Dallas, which is right behind Portland in the race for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference playoff chase. And more than anything, they needed to win a close game -- a one-point game. It's the first one they've captured this season.
"We have been on the wrong end of (close games) a lot of times this year," said Portland Coach Terry Stotts. "I'm glad we closed it out. The finish was incredible -- great shot-making by both teams. I'm glad we don't have to play them again."
The Trail Blazers played solid defense most of the game, particularly in the first half, and kept Dallas guard Yogi Ferrell under control. He finished with 12 points and two assists after a 32-point game in Portland last week. Their pick-and-roll defense was much better than it has been lately and their aggression was at a high level.
But in what has been an up-and-down season, the Trail Blazers managed to have a "down" on the same night as one of their biggest "ups." Portland lost Evan Turner to a broken third metacarpal bone in his right (shooting) hand. "At first," said Turner, "it didn't hurt much. It was just numb. But then it really started to hurt after I caught a pass from Dame. It's a pretty boring way to break your hand. I mean I just kind of ran into Barnes. I wish it was a better story, like on a dunk or something."
The usual time frame for healing such an injury is a minimum of a month but often longer. Turner says he's a quick healer.
The Blazers, who will likely be in a fight for that playoff berth all season, could use him as soon as he's ready.