There is something about the Dallas Mavericks and Damian Lillard that produce dramatic theater.
Four times during his career, Lillard has had shots to win or tie a game against Dallas in the final seconds, including this season, when his three-point attempt against the dogged defense of Wesley Matthews was off, preserving Dallas’ 96-95 win in December.
“I have thought about the last one,’’ Lillard said Thursday on the eve of Friday’s 7:30 p.m. game at the Moda Center (KGW/ESPN). “I felt like I could have had a better look.’’
Last season, Lillard had chances to beat the Mavericks in Portland and in Dallas, but each time he missed long three pointers at the end of regulation, and the Blazers eventually lost both games in overtime.
Also, in 2013, he made a three-pointer with 1.9 seconds left to tie the Mavericks, only to watch Mavericks guard Monta Ellis hit a jumper off an inbounds pass for the victory at the Moda Center.
“It is, I guess, an interesting history,’’ Lillard said after recounting all his shots.
The freshest memory is from the Dec. 21 game, when Matthews – his former backcourt mate – took the assignment of guarding him out of an inbounds play with 9.8 seconds left and the Mavericks leading by one. Matthews immediately pressured Lillard near the midcourt line, and stayed on him through a series of dribbles and change of direction by Lillard. Teammate Dwight Powell also offered some help, diverting a drive by Lillard and forcing him to heave a long, fadeaway three-pointer.
“They did a good job on that last possession with Wes, pressuring up, knowing how much time was on the clock,’’ Lillard said. “And they had another defender (Powell) right there … I kind of hand my hands tied and was forced to take a tougher shot than I would have liked.’’
Coach Terry Stotts said his main memory from that December game was not Lillard’s shot against Matthews, but how the Blazers allowed 62 first half points and fell behind by 24 points. That being said, Stotts said it is a no-brainer to get Lillard the ball with the game on the line.
“If I can get Dame the ball … getting the ball to your best player and get an opportunity to get a shot, that’s what you want,’’ Stotts said.
Lillard said he always wants the ball in a game-winning situation, and if history tells us anything, there’s a good chance he will get that opportunity again Friday against Dallas.
“I will never shy away from any time the game is on the line,’’ Lillard said. “I want the ball, and I’m going to live with whatever happens. I can take you guys saying whatever you have to say about me not making it, and I’m humble enough to deal with the times when I do make it.
“I’ve made the shot plenty of times, so in that situation, if it comes up again tomorrow night, I’m going to come into the huddle and say ‘Let me get the ball.’’’