Dallas Mavericks

Fans give Dirk Nowitzki fitting send off in final game in Portland

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Fans give Dirk Nowitzki fitting send off in final game in Portland

There wasn’t a postgame jersey swap at midcourt. There was no extended walk off to bask in the cheers. There was just a final one-legged fade away and a quick wave.

The Dirk Nowitzki maybe-but-maaaaybe-not retirement tour made a stop in the Moda Center on Wednesday night and fans, plenty of whom came clad in No. 41 Dallas Mavericks jerseys, got to pay respects to an all-time great.

But unlike year long celebrations courted by future Hall of Famers Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant, Nowitzki’s potential final game in Portland didn’t have the manufactured pomp and circumstance.

“Well he hasn’t said he’s going to retire so I’m not going to be sad tonight,” said Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, who spent four years with Nowitzki as a Mavericks assistant and was part of the 2011 Dallas championship team.

When Nowitzki and the Mavs came through Portland in December earlier in the season, Nowitzki, 40, sat out. The Mavericks were on the second night of back-to-back games they gave their aging star the night off. So when Stotts saw the former MVP in the back hallway he playfully taunted Nowitzki about needing rest after a grueling 12-minute outing.

The two shared another laugh before tip-off on Wednesday when Stotts found Nowitzki out on the court before his pregame shooting routine and told him that the Blazers were going endlessly hunt him in pick and rolls.

His sense of humor hasn’t faded, but Nowitzki’s game is certainly in a twilight stage. His gait does nothing to hide the miles he’s logged as a 40 year old playing in his 21st season. It certainly looks like it’s his final season, even if he insists he won’t make that decision until the summer. He finished with three points and two rebounds against the Blazers, treating fans to one final one-legged fadeaway while missing his only other two shot attempts in 14 minutes.

Once the game was decided late in the fourth quarter on Wednesday fans inside the Moda Center started a “We Want Dirk” chant, but Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle didn’t oblige. Nowitzki, who two days earlier had passed Wilt Chamberlain to move into sixth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, stood and acknowledged the Portland crowd, for what seemed like the final time.

The strange thing about playing two decades in the league is that you up competing against a generation of players that looked up to you in your prime when they were pre-teens with hoop dreams. Damian Lillard said he owned Nowitzki jersey as a 5th grader and Zach Collins reiterated that he had always tried to model his game after the Mavericks star. There was shared appreciation from the stands, the players on the court and the coaches on the sidelines. If this wasn’t a “goodbye” it was a “thanks for the memories.”

Nowitzki is far from a villain in the northwest even if he did usher the Blazers out of the playoffs in 2002 and 2011. There were no boos like Kobe Bryant earned in his final game in Portland. There was no “maybe he’s still got it” moment like when Dwyane Wade carried the Heat to a win in Portland  back in February of this year. There’s certainly no hashtag or uniform swap. Nowitzki plays a little bit. He waves to the fans and then he repeats some version of the explanation he’s uttered at arenas across the country.

“My plan was always play year to year my last couple years,” Nowitzki said. “See how the body feels and make the decision after the season.”

So this summer he’ll take some time and decide whether he is ready for season 22 or to move into some other role with the Mavericks front office or a third option away from the game. One thing he hasn’t ruled out is an encore, running the retirement tour back for another 41 nights of admiration on the road.

“No, I mean, I enjoy it,” he said. “If I come back, we’ll do it all over again.”

Seth Curry was just being himself in win over former team

Seth Curry was just being himself in win over former team

The Blazers followed up their win Monday night vs. the Indiana Pacers with a 126-118 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night to improve to 2-0 on their four-game homestand.

It was also their second game without CJ McCollum, who is sidelined with a popliteus strain in his left knee. In McCollum’s absence, Damian Lillard continued to lead the charge in a variety of ways. Lillard finished with 33 points and 12 assists.

But, he wasn't alone in the Blazers efforts. Backup guard Seth Curry stepped up to help carry some of the load, too.  

Curry scored 12 of his 20 points in the second half after going 8-of-16 from the field, and 4-of-7 from deep. Curry also pulled down five rebounds.

This was Curry’s third game of 20-plus points this season.

The best part about Curry's by committee performance?  

Lillard feels this performance from Curry is nothing out of the ordinary for Curry’s skillset, or for the Trail Blazers’ offense.

“The way he got it, I think that it translates even when CJ comes back and we are at full strength. The things that he was doing, he will still be able to do. It wasn’t like he just went out there and got out of what we typically do, the role we typically have him in, he was just being himself,” Lillard said.

“The way he did it, I think it will work for us going forward, regardless of who’s out there, who’s not,’ Lillard added.

Curry echoed those sentiments, saying that as a team they were playing “similar offense, moving the ball, trying to find the best shots” as they would when McCollum is in the lineup.

The 28-year-old knew he had to be on the attack more, while playing some extra minutes with McCollum out.

“A little more opportunity, obviously, there’s a lot of shots missing with CJ not in the lineup, so other guys gotta step up and try to help where we can,” Curry said.

Since McCollum was sidelined last Saturday in the Blazers loss to the Spurs, Portland’s head coach Terry Stotts has preached that they need the entire team to contribute and it may be a different guy on any given night. 

Coach Stotts was happy to see that Wednesday night was Curry’s night; at least until he got winded as the game drew on.

“I thought he was active,” Stott said. “I don’t know if he got a little tired in the fourth quarter, but I thought he got good looks. He was pretty close to having a really good night. I thought he had three or four really nice moves to the basket and wasn’t able to finish them, but again, with CJ out… It’s gonna be by committee... We need his shooting.”

So, was Curry getting a little gassed in the fourth?

“I was a little tired at the end, playing 16 minutes, or whatever, straight in the second half,” Curry said with a smile. 

Curry had been with the Mavericks from 2016-2018 before signing a two-year deal with Portland in free agency last summer. It’s always fun to see a player do so well against his former team.

During Wednesday night’s game, Curry made it a point to look over at the Mavs bench a few times after scoring a bucket.

Does Curry enjoy taking it to his former teammates?

“Just a lot of guys I like over there, a few friends that I played with, obviously. So, it’s just all fun,” Curry said.

So, he wouldn’t admit that he gets hyped up a little bit more when the Blazers play the Mavs, but he might have admitted there could be some potential trash-talking going on. 

“Nah, not much,” Curry laughed.

Okay, maybe not.

But one things for sure—

Curry was having fun.

“We’ve got a good team over here. Everybody’s doing their part, moving the ball, finding the open man tonight, so it’s fun to play when guys are moving the ball like that and everybody contributed tonight,” Curry told Trail Blazers sideline reporter Brooke Olzendam immediately after the game.

The ball movement is fun for the players and fun for the fans.

On to the next—Blazers host Detroit on Saturday.

Which role player will step up next?   

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers win over the Dallas Mavericks

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Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers win over the Dallas Mavericks

Wednesday’s game was the fourth and final meeting between Portland and Dallas this season as the Trail Blazers looked to even up the series.

In his unofficial farewell tour, the Trail Blazers fans started off the game by giving Dirk Nowitzki a nice ovation during introductions.

Portland jumped out to a comfortable lead early, leading by as many as 13 points. But, the NBA game is all about runs and Dallas did not quit; which is what you expect from a team who has been eliminated from the playoffs, yet still very much enjoy taking it at teams.

The Blazers, however, took care of business in the third quarter led by Damian Lillard’s 17 points in the quarter and Portland never looked back. The Trail Blazers defeated the Mavericks 126-118. Portland now improves to 44-27 on the season.  

Final Box Score: Trail Blazers 126, Mavericks 118

 

Here are some quick thoughts on the Blazers second straight victory:

1.Nurkic’s dunkfest game

The Moda Center crowd really got into the game after Jusuf Nurkic threw down some early dunks. Nurk took advantage of Nowitzki not being able to move as well as he once could and then had a nasty dunk over Mavs backup center Salah Mejri that brought the house down. It was definitely the highlight of the night.

2. Trent Jr. makes an earlier appearance

Trail Blazers rookie shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. subbed in for Seth Curry at the 2:52 mark of the second quarter.

Trent Jr. did not make a huge impact in his first half stint, but with the rookie earning real rotation minutes that proves Blazers head coach Terry Stotts really is giving a variety of guys a chance with CJ McCollum (left knee) out.

3. Lillard Time takes over

After only leading by 13 at halftime, Damian Lillard took matters into his own hands in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.  Lillard scored 17 points in the third after scoring 16 points in the first two quarters. Lillard finished with 33 points and 12 assists.

This is 19th time of Lillard’s career he has had a 30 and 10 game, which ties Clyde Drexler for the most in Blazers history.

That Lillard third-quarter performance was a reminder that (to quote Coach Stotts) “Lillard is special.”

That performance also meant Lillard got to sit out the entire fourth quarter and in Game 70 of the season, we all know how important that is at this point in the year. 


NEXT UP: The Blazers will have two days off until the next game as Portland continues its four-game homestand with game number three on Saturday. The Blazers host the Detriot Pistons with tip-off set for 7:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest.
 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your Blazers and stream the games easily on your device.

Rip City Rewind: Everything you might have missed as the Blazers fell to the Mavericks

Rip City Rewind: Everything you might have missed as the Blazers fell to the Mavericks

The Portland Trail Blazers hit the road for the second night of a back-to-back with their first stop in Dallas. It was a game of runs from the start, but Portland held onto a steady lead at halftime. Then, Damian Lillard exploded.

The Blazers All-Star guard went off after halftime to give Portland a 14-point lead heading into the fourth. You know what that means….or so we thought.

Luka Doncic responded and the Blazers eventually fell to the Mavericks 102-101 in Dallas.

Let's get you caught up with everything you might have missed.

Damian Lillard got hot in the third quarter, igniting the Blazers offense with 21 points in the quarter, and 30 in the game. But Portland needed Lillard Time to last a little longer, as the Blazers went on to make just three of their final 16 shots, turning the ball over seven times.

Dwight Jaynes recapped Portland’s fourth-quarter collapse: Anemic fourth quarter dooms Trail Blazers in Dallas

The final possession was a topic of controversy, as many believed Lillard was fouled on two occasions by Dorian Finney-Smith during the Blazers final possession.

Lillard was visibly upset following the game because Portland would have walked away with a one-point victory instead of a one-point loss.   

The loss to the Mavericks was the first time this season Portland has held a lead heading into the fourth quarter, and gone on to lose. Prior to Sunday’s game, Portland had a 33-0 record when leading after three quarters.

Jamie Hudson noted the controversial end to the streak: No Call, No Win: Trail Blazers' streak comes to an end vs. Dallas Mavericks

Jamie Hudson shared her quick takeaways following the Blazers loss on the first of a back-to-back: Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers loss to the Dallas Mavericks

No Call, No Win: Trail Blazers' streak comes to an end vs. Dallas Mavericks

No Call, No Win: Trail Blazers' streak comes to an end vs. Dallas Mavericks

DALLAS -- Portland entered Sunday’s matinee game against Dallas with a 33-21 record including a 33-0 record when leading after three quarters.

Sunday evening the Trail Blazers flew to Oklahoma City heading with that streak broken after holding a lead over the Mavericks heading into the fourth quarter, 92-78 but coming up with a loss.

It was a game of runs in Dallas and in the end the Mavericks got the last say. The Mavs completed the comeback with a 102-101 win.  

After Damian Lillard had ignited the Blazers offense in the third quarter with 21 points, the fourth quarter offense was hard to come by.

“Obviously, offensively we struggled in the fourth quarter. Just some missed opportunities, some turnovers, some poor decisions and you’ve got to give credit to Dallas – they played with a lot of energy, they never quit, they stayed in it… and they deserved to win,” Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said.

Yes, it was a fourth quarter collapse and Coach Stotts, as well as the players admit that they should’ve never let the Mavericks back in the game and should have not let it come down to the final possession.

“It shouldn’t have came down to that… Period,” Lillard said.

THE NO CALL
That final possession turned into a controversial subject on social media and a big subject in the Blazers’ locker room.

Mavericks small forward Dorian Finney-Smith, who stands at 6-8, had the task of guarding Lillard down the stretch and on the final possession.

Lillard took Finney-Smith to the hoop and there could’ve been a foul called on Finney-Smith for grabbing Lillard’s shoulder, but there was also a second potential foul when Maximilian Kleber came to help and challenged Lillard at the rim.

The second possible foul looked a lot similar to a foul that was called on Blazers backup center Zach Collins earlier in the game.

“On the last play I got fouled two times… When I went behind the back, he reached across my right shoulder and pulled my shoulder with his left arm, they didn’t call that. And then, the call that Zach had been getting called for all night, the dude jumped forward right into me, it’s the same call, but it should’ve never come down to that,” Lillard said in the locker room.

Lillard finished with 30 points and five assists in the loss.

Even though Lillard’s running mate CJ McCollum called the game a “terrible loss” and it was a game they should’ve won, he also echoed Lillard’s sentiments on the no-call in the final seconds of the game.

“The refs are inconsistent with that A to B call. On Zach it’s a foul every time, McCollum said with a straight face. “But when other guys do it, it’s hard to kind of tell if they’re moving or not, but at the end of the game, they’re not going to call a foul… Even if he gets hit, they’re not going to call a foul. I thought he made a good move. I thought he should’ve stopped and popped.”

DON'T BLAME THE REFS

Make no mistake the Blazers are not saying that because the officials did not blow their whistle that’s why they lost.

There were many factors that went into this game, just ask McCollum. 

“I don’t think we scored for like eight, nine minutes, so that didn’t help us in terms of offensive efficiency. I had a turnover or two in the fourth quarter that hurt us. Every possession is crucial. I think we’ve just got to do a better job of generating quality shots on offense in the fourth quarter,” McCollum said.

And for Lillard, this looked like it could’ve been one of the more frustrating losses for him this season after talking with him in the locker room.

Lillard ended his postgame interview with this:  

“If we let one like this get away from us, that should send a message to us.”

The Blazers will visit Oklahoma City on Monday night. It will be a tough test, but if the Blazers got the message it should be a competitive game against a Thunder team who has now won 10 of its last 11.

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers loss to the Dallas Mavericks

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers loss to the Dallas Mavericks

DALLAS - Portland tipped-off its first of a back-to-back with a matinee game in Dallas on Sunday. It’s clear that the Mavs are young team who are trying to figure out their new trade pieces, while the Blazers are looking to keep good positioning for a playoff run. 
Here are some quick thoughts from Dallas...
Final Box Score: Mavericks 102, Trail Blazers 101

Different Hood rotation

In Rodney Hood’s first game with Portland on Thursday against the Miami Heat, Zach Collins was the odd man out of the rotation and only saw the floor for a handful of minutes in the second half, but against the Mavs, Zach Collins checked in with Hood as the first two off the bench.

This goes to show that Coach Stotts is going to be changing up his rotation depending on matchups. With the Mavs big men being a little quicker and smaller, Coach Stotts decided to go with Collins instead of Meyers Leonard.

In the month of February, Collins is averaging just 7.5 minutes per game. He played 11 in the first half.

With the addition of Hood that means both Collins and Leonard will always need to be prepared to play big minutes one night and maybe be a DNP the next.

A tale of two halves on defense

The Blazers looked locked in on the defensive end from the tip-off. Yes, Dallas is trying to figure out their new trade pieces. 

The Mavs shot just 37% from the field for the first half and Portland held Luka Doncic to 3-of-9 shooting for 10 points in the half.

The Blazers went on a 19-1 run midway through the second quarter and what was most impressive of the run is that Portland held Dallas to just one made free throw.

Yet, Dallas made adjustments in the second half and Portland looked a step slow on ‘D’. The Mavs cutters were able to get to the hoop past their defenders.

In the second half it almost felt like the Blazers were the team who was playing three games in four days, not the Mavs.

Lillard Time comes early -- But it wasn't enough

When it looked as though the Mavs might take control of this game, Damian Lillard took over in the third.

It really was the Lillard show and just like that, he dropped 21 points in the third quarter alone to keep things interesting. 

However, the entire Trail Blazer team went 10 minutes and 10 seconds in the fourth quarter without scoring a bucket. Lillard had a decent attack to the paint in the final seconds, but the fourth quarter offensive issues continued, and the basket didn't drop. 

NEXT UP: Portland finishes its back-to-back when the Blazers visit Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday at 5:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your Blazers and stream the games easily on your device.

Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for Dallas Mavericks

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Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for Dallas Mavericks

DALLAS – Today's game in Dallas is the first of a back-to-back on the road for the Trail Blazers. Portland will face Oklahoma City on Monday night. As for the Mavericks, this will be the third game in four days.

Before Sunday's matinee tipped off, both Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle addressed the media to give updates on their newest players and more.

Coach Carlisle discussed how Kristaps Porzingis has been fitting in despite not being able to play. Coach talked about how he has shared with Porzingis his plans on how he will fit into the rotation next season as the Mavs have decided to hold Porzingis out for the rest of the year to rehab his knee.

Carlisle also praised his former assistant coach, saying, “Every player that has gone [to Portland] has played better because of Terry Stotts.”

Coach Carlisle wasn’t just praising the Blazers head coach. He had this to say about the Trail Blazers backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum:  
“The tandem of those two guys is murder to deal with, for sure… They’re an amazing one-two punch. I saw a stat recently on TV… I think they’re the leading scoring guard tandem in the league right now. There’s no off night in the Western Conference… It’s a good challenge for us,” Carlisle said.

Hear from Coach Carlisle right here:

Coach Stotts said pregame that the Trail Blazers newest addition Skal Labissiere is ACTIVE for today’s game.

Stotts also mentioned that the Blazers’ rotation might not look like it did on Thursday night vs. the Spurs.

With the new addition of wing Rodney Hood the rotation could continue to change based on matchups and figuring out what works best.

Hear from Coach Stotts right here:

 

 

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Dallas Mavericks: How and Where to Watch

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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Dallas Mavericks: How and Where to Watch

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your Blazers and stream the games easily on your device.


GAME DETAILS

Where to Watch: NBC Sports Northwest

Where to Watch on the go: Stream the game live on the new MyTeams App

Tip-Off Time: 12:00 p.m. 

NBCS NW Coverage: Blazers Outsiders Pregame Show (11:00 a.m.), Blazers Outsiders Postgame Show (immediately after the game). 

Radio: 620AM Rip City Radio


INJURY UPDATES

Portland has no injuries to report for Sunday's game in Dallas. 

For the Mavericks, Kristaps Porzingis is OUT as he continues to recover from surgery to repair a torn ACL and Dejounte Murray is OUT rehabbing his right knee.


QUICK LINKS

Dwight Jaynes: Trail Blazers trying different combinations but unlock win over San Antonio Spurs

Jamie Hudson: Rip City loves them some Rodney Hood... and the feeling is mutual

Mike Richman: The addition of Rodney Hood leaves the Blazers with tough choices

VIDEO: Portland addresses position of need with Rodney Hood

VIDEO: CJ McCollum uses three-point barrage to top Spurs


Download the brand new MyTeams app today - This is the app for everything Blazers: games, highlights, articles, podcasts and more from your NBC Sports Northwest Blazers team.

The unpredictable pick and roll between Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic

The unpredictable pick and roll between Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic

A two-man game can be very entertaining to watch and very effective.

The pick and roll between Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard and big man Jusuf Nurkic has been a key piece of the Trail Blazers offense this season and in Portland’s 121-118 overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night, the duo was dialed in early.

But what is it that Lillard enjoys most about the two-man game between him and Nurk?   

It’s not predictable as, I guess, just a straight up pick-and-roll because I can hit him and get the ball back. He can roll. I can flip to CJ. There’s so many other options. I can hit him, cut backdoor, he can throw it to me, not throw it to me, go into something else. There’s so many different actions that we can get into out of it, so that’s why I think it’s going really good.     

The Lillard and Nurkic connection obviously depends on how the opponents defend the pick-and-roll. 

“It’s nothing new, I guess. Sometimes it’s just how they guard it, you know our guards… They try to blitz (double team) them most of the game, so I just try to make the play,” Nurkic said.

Nurkic's found his teammates early and often, in the pick and roll, and out of other action. The big man had some impressive passes to Lillard cutting to the hoop starting with a dish to Lillard at the 7:19 mark in the first quarter.

Nurkic finished with six assists to go along with his 10 points and 12 rebounds in 29 minutes of action.  It was Nurkic's 16th double-double of the season.

“I’m just try to do my role and try to affect the game in many ways… I try to take advantage,” Nurkic said.

It may seem that Nurkic is looking to pass more, but to Lillard, Nurkic's passing has come from his increased playmaking role. Lillard also compares the Bosnian Beast to former Trail Blazer Mason “Plumdog Millionare” Plumlee. 

“We’ve been running a lot of our motion down actions, playing through him at the top, just cutting and screening for each other and he’s, we’ve always known he’s a really good passer. I think now he’s just been in a position to… a playmaker position more often lately. Kinda like how Mason was. You know, he’s been in the position to make the pass or go into a handoff or off a pick and roll, he get it and then they pull over and then he’s finding the next guy… His passing ability has really shown because of that,” Lillard said.

Case and point, at the 5:13 mark in the 2nd quarter, when two crisp passes went back and forth from Dame to Nurkic, then back to Lillard again down low for a lay-in.

Lillard led all scorers with 33 points and also dished out seven assists.
Lillard returned the favor to Nurkic at the end of the second quarter. With 4.6 left in the first half, Lillard found Nurkic for the dunk.

Nurkic was looking at a potential triple-double at halftime with eight points, 10 rebounds, and five assists. But to Nurkic, it’s not at all about padding stats.  

“I’m not hunting anything, man. I’m in the flow. What happens, happens,” Nurkic said.

A seven-footer who dishes out six assists while playing in the flow of the offense should help Portland grab more wins this season and beyond. Keep an eye on his assist average of 2.6 per game. It could be on the rise.

Trail Blazers put another brick in the foundation of the “Legend of Luka Doncic” – and lived to tell about it

Trail Blazers put another brick in the foundation of the “Legend of Luka Doncic” – and lived to tell about it

The Trail Blazers put another brick in the foundation of the “Legend of Luka Doncic” Sunday night – and lived to tell about it.

Doncic dropped a game-tying, three-point bomb from the right corner while falling out of bounds at the horn to end the fourth quarter.

The shot sent the game into overtime but Portland recovered to take a 121-118 overtime win over the Mavericks.

It was a miraculous shot but not a surprise, given the impact the rookie prodigy has made for the Dallas Mavericks so far this season.

Doncic, a Lithuanian, signed a pro contract with Real Madrid at the age of 13 and made his debut with the team at 16, helping the team to the Euroleague championship.

But he didn’t quite have enough to beat the Blazers.

Portland seemed in control throughout most of the game, leading by as many as 14 and by 10 with six and a half minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

“It was a wild finish,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said. “Obviously, Doncic hit an outstanding shot. We didn’t defend it well but it was an amazing shot. We regrouped in overtime, kind of maintained the lead throughout the overtime.”

The Mavericks had three chances to hit a game-tying three-pointer with under 30 seconds to play in overtime but missed them all.

“The last possession got a little wild with all the threes but we were due to have a little good luck go our way,” Stotts said.

It was another game when the Trail Blazers struggled from long distance – hitting just 11 of 38 from three – but shot 47 percent overall, thanks to the inside presence of Jusuf Nurkic and Meyers Leonard.

Nurkic made five his eight shots, had 12 rebounds, six assists and two blocks before fouling out after 29 minutes on the court.

Leonard came on to make six of his 10 shots, grab six rebounds and score 13 points.

“I’m happy that Coach Stotts has given me some freedom out there,” Leonard said. “All I used to do, in high school and college, is dunk the ball. I never shot the ball.

“When I was younger I needed to find a way to play. All I did was dunk. I was bigger than everybody. So I’ve extended my range and become a three-point shooter but I’m trying to be aggressive from several different areas on the floor.”

As usual Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum carried a heavy load for Portland.

Lillard had 33 points and seven assists, McCollum totaled 22 points and five assists. Each made big shots down the stretch in overtime, as did Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu.

But afterward, a whole lot of the talk was about Doncic’s incredible shot.

“The guy has an uncanny knack for making shots like that,” Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle said. “I can’t say I was surprised when it went in. I’ve seen him do things like that too many times.”

The Mavericks had the ball out of bounds with six-tenths of a second left on the clock to set up Doncic, who caught the ball in the corner and fell out of bounds as he shot.

“I mean, it just went in,” he said. “It was a tough shot. I don’t know what to say.”

Does he practice those shots?

“Yeah, most of the time,” he said. “A lot of people think it’s a joke, but it’s not. Sometimes you need those shots.”

Lillard said, “He’s a really, really, really good player. It’s very obvious he’s been playing professionally. I’m sometimes on the weak side seeing him come off the pick and roll and his eyes are open. He’s seeing everything. He’s making the right plays.

“He’s kind of manipulating the situation to get what he wants to get out of the plays. And you don’t see that out of rookies – they’re playing much more off their natural ability.

“He’s got real game. He’s a real pro.”