There is a new point guard in the Western Conference, and he’s ushering a new team into the Western Conference playoff race.
Yogi Ferrell, signed by Dallas to a 10-day contract on Jan. 28, scored 32 points on Friday, which included a big three-pointer with 19.3 seconds left, to lift the Mavericks to a 108-104 win over the Blazers at the Moda Center.
With Ferrell starting at point guard, the Mavericks (20-30) have won four in a row and are now 2.5 games behind Denver for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference and just 1.5 games behind ninth-place Portland (22-29).
Portland had two chances to tie the game in the final seconds, but CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard both missed three pointers.
The Blazers never led and trailed by as many as 24 in the first half, but tied the score at 92 after Al-Farouq Aminu hit a three-pointer with 4:17 left. Aminu, who started in the second half for Noah Vonleh, had 14 points and eight rebounds and hit a season-high four three pointers.
But the story was Ferrell, who was playing just his fourth game with the Mavericks. He hit 9-of-11 from three-point range after hitting four three-pointers all season. The former University of Indiana point guard played in 10 games with Brooklyn earlier in the season.
Former Blazers guard Wesley Matthews also had a big night, finishing with 27 points and Seth Curry, the younger brother of Golden State star Stephen Curry, added 19 points, nine of them in the fourth quarter.
McCollum nearly brought the Blazers back by himself, scoring 28 points on 11-of-20 shooting, but his backcourt partner Lillard suffered through one of his worst shooting nights of the season, going 4-of-20, including 1-for-8 from three point range.
It was the second straight win for Dallas in Portland, both of the wins coming in similar fashion – a big first half lead followed by a big Portland comeback that comes up short with a miss on a last-second shot.
This time, the Blazers’ comeback was led by Evan Turner, who scored 14 of his 24 points in the third quarter, when Portland cut a 13-point halftime deficit to as little as four.
McCollum, though, was the pulse of the Blazers. He hit a three-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer drawing Portland within 84-76. Earlier, McCollum made a mid-range jumper to beat the halftime buzzer.
Lillard, who said after last game that he wanted to be more assertive and aggressive to start games, went scoreless in the first quarter after missing all five of his shots. Meanwhile, Ferrell was hitting four of his five shots and scoring 11 in the first quarter and 22 in the first half.
Dallas hit its first seven shots and took a 17-4 lead out of the gate, and later pushed the lead to 30-10 after Matthews hit a three to cap a 12-point quarter. Portland scored the final seven points of the quarter to get within 35-22 heading into the second quarter.
Dallas pushed the lead to as many as 24 in the second quarter before Portland rallied to within 60-47 at halftime after McCollum hit a mid-range jumper to beat the halftime buzzer.
Next up: Blazers at Oklahoma City, noon Sunday (CSN)