Deron Williams

Trail Blazers' skid continues after Lillard can't complete comeback

Trail Blazers' skid continues after Lillard can't complete comeback

The Trail Blazers' losing streak continued Wednesday when Damian Lillard missed a three-pointer at the buzzer, sealing a 96-95 loss to the Dallas Mavericks at the Moda Center, the Blazers' fourth consecutive loss and the eighth loss in the last nine games.

The Blazers came back from a 25-point deficit and had two chances to win in the final seconds, but each time Lillard came up short. Portland had the ball with 20.3 seconds left and trailing by one after forcing a shot-clock violation on the Mavericks, but Lillard drove under the basket and his pass was deflected by Dwight Powell, and the carom went off Lillard's chest while he was standing out of bounds with 12.3 seconds left. 

However, Dallas gave the Blazers one more opportunity when Deron Williams threw the inbounds pass to no one, the Blazers finally grabbing possession when Mason Plumlee scooped up the ball near halfcourt and called timeout with 9.8 seconds left. 

That set up Lillard's final shot, which was harried from the defense of former Blazers guard Wesley Matthews, who earlier in the quarter picked Lillard near halfcourt and converted a fast-break layin to make it 94-91. 

Portland (13-18) is now in a three-way tie for the eighth and final playoff spot with Denver (12-17) and Sacramento (12-17). Dallas (8-21) won its second road game of the season in 15 tries. 

Lillard finished with 29 points, but he shot 10-of-23 and had six turnovers, while CJ McCollum also struggled with his shot (5-of-16). Dallas was led by Harrison Barnes (28 points) and Williams (23 points) and benefitted from Maurice Harkless fouling out with 4:34 left in the fourth quarter. Matthews, whose defense was key in the fourth quarter, added 16 points for Dallas. 

The Blazers showed some life in the third quarter, outscoring Dallas 33-19, which included a 16-2 run, helping trim Dallas' lead to 81-71 entering the final quarter. Lillard scored 20 in the third and the defense held Dallas to 8-of-20 shooting.

Portland played one of its poorest first halves of the season, trailing the offensively-challenged Mavericks 62-38 at halftime. Dallas, which entered the game as the NBA's lowest scoring team at 94.1 points a game, scored 30 and 32 points in the first two quarters while shooting 50 percent from the field. The Blazers didn't help themselves with 11 turnovers and their two stars -- Lillard (2-for-8) and McCollum (1-for-8) -- combined to go 3-for-16. 

Al-Farouq Aminu returned to the lineup after missing the last four games with a back bruise, but was largely ineffective, save for a diving steal near the end of the first half that resulted in an Allen Crabbe fast-break layin. But the jolt of energy was short-lived as Dallas raced back and beat the buzzer with a Seth Curry three-pointer. Aminu finished with five points and six rebounds in 30 minutes. 

Next up: San Antonio at Blazers, 7 p.m. Friday (CSN).

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Wesley Matthews looking for first win, not back at Trail Blazers

Wesley Matthews looking for first win, not back at Trail Blazers

DALLAS – By now, Wesley Matthews says he is over his time with the Trail Blazers, the strangeness of going against his former team long ago worn off.

Plus, his mind these days is occupied with trying to right the ship of his current team, the winless Dallas Mavericks.

Dallas (0-4) plays host to the Blazers (2-3) tonight at the American Airlines Center (5:30 p.m., CSN), and both Matthews and coach Rick Carlisle say the Mavericks’ problems are easy to identify.

“We haven’t been playing hard enough, long enough,’’ Matthews said. “We put ourselves in position to be in every game, just not enough to get over the hump.’’

Matthews is the Mavericks’ second leading scorer at 15.8 points per game, but he is shooting 31.3 percent from the field and 9-of-38 from three-point range (23.7 percent).

“I haven’t been shooting it the best, but you can’t question what I have been doing on the other end of the court,’’ Matthews said. “My shooting is going to come. I’m not going to worry about that part.’’

Matthews at the team’s shootaround wanted nothing to do with reminiscing about his five years in Portland -- “I’m pretty sure they don’t miss me” – and he sounded and appeared like he was already in game mode.

“We have to come out with an approach that we are pissed off,’’ Matthews said. “We are not going to roll over. We are a lot better than what our record says. We have talent in the locker room, we have vets, guys who’ve had success, we have champions, we have youth, we have everything. We just have to put it together.’’

Carlisle said he won’t mess with his lineups as he tries to avoid his first 0-5 start. The Mavericks are expected to start Deron Williams, Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki and Andrew Bogut.

“To me, this is less about lineups and more about disposition, presence, execution and doing little things well,’’ Carlisle said. “Not making the untimely, bad play. Margins are slim.’’

Nowitzki, who has missed two games because of illness, is expected to play against the Blazers, but Carlisle said his minutes will be monitored. Williams is also expected to play after saying his groin injury is feeling better.

“(Nowitzki) is working through this,’’ Carlisle said of the illness. “He’s not feeling super great, but he’s going to play. He just has to work through this period of getting his legs back and back to feeling himself.’’