DALLAS -- The good news for the Trail Blazers is that Damian Lillard has been one of the best players in the NBA to start the season.
The bad news is the Blazers struggle when he is not on the court.
In another dominant performance Friday, Lillard rescued a wayward Blazers team with a 42-point performance that helped them stave off a depleted Dallas Mavericks team, 105-95 at American Airlines Arena.
Portland improved to 3-3 while Dallas fell to 0-5 for the first time in franchise history.
The Blazers needed every bit of Lillard's performance, even though the Mavericks played without starting center Andrew Bogut, who was a late-scratch (personal reasons) and Dirk Nowitzki in the second half (sore Achilles).
It appeared the Blazers would win comfortably when they took a 16-point lead in the third quarter on a stretch sparked by three consecutive three pointers by Lillard, the last two coming from 31 feet and 34 feet.
But in what is becoming an early-season trend, the Blazers let the lead evaporate after being on the wrong end of a big scoring run. This time it was a 16-1 run by Dallas that brought them within 79-78 less than a minute into the third quarter.
That's when Lillard re-entered the game and instantly righted the ship, hitting back-to-back jumpers that steadied the team and led to the Blazers ending a two-game losing streak. Lillard was a plus 17 in his 37 minutes on the court.
Lillard, who entered the game as the NBA's third leading scorer at 32.6 behind DeMar DeRozan and Russell Westbrook, finished 12-for-18 from the field and 5-of-6 from three-point range. It was his fourth game of 30 or more points and his first 40 point game of the season.
The Blazers led 55-52 at halftime even though they allowed Dallas to score the final seven points of the half. The lead was established by a stretch when Portland scored on 11 consecutive possessions, turning a 35-28 deficit into a 51-45 lead. Lillard was instrumental in the run, scoring nine of his 15 first-half points during the spurt.
Portland forged a 26-26 tie at the end of the first quarter when Shabazz Napier made a running three-pointer at the buzzer after Al-Farouq Aminu popped the ball loose from Mavericks point guard JJ Barea. The Blazers, who have been prone to being on the wrong end of scoring runs, allowed Dallas to go on a 13-0 run in the first quarter, which turned a 19-11 lead into a 24-19 deficit.
The Mavericks started three guards because center Andrew Bogut was a late scratch for personal reasons. As a result, Plumlee had a field day early as he was checked by smaller players like 6-foot-8 Harrison Barnes, resulting in four dunks for Plumlee in the first half.
Plumlee finished with 19 points, tying his high as a Blazer and Aminu added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Former Blazers guard Wesley Matthews had seven points in 29 minutes, finishing 1-for-6 from the field.
Next up: Blazers at Memphis, 12:30 p.m. Sunday (CSN)