Don­cic daz­zles again as Mavs main­tain hot streak

China Daily (Canada) - - WORLD -

DAL­LAS — The Dal­las Mav­er­icks hadn’t won eight in a row at home since 2011 — the year they won the NBA cham­pi­onship.

On Tues­day night, the Mavs matched that mark and con­tin­ued their up­ward tra­jec­tory in the rugged Western Con­fer­ence.

Luka Don­cic scored 21 points and Wes­ley Matthews added 17 as Dal­las won for the ninth time in 11 games, beat­ing the Port­land Trail Blaz­ers 111-102.

DeAn­dre Jor­dan added 12 points and 17 re­bounds for the Mavs, who won their eighth in a row at Amer­i­can Air­lines Cen­ter for the first time since March 2011 — three months be­fore they de­feated Mi­ami for the fran­chise’s only NBA ti­tle.

“To be the team we want to be, we have to win the games at home,” Matthews said. “Our at­ten­tion to de­fense is what’s re­ally do­ing it for us.”

That de­fense made it dif­fi­cult for Port­land’s vaunted back­court. Damian Lil­lard had 33 points, but shot just 10 for 23 from the field and 2 for 8 on 3s. His 11-for-12 shoot­ing from the line helped his to­tal.

CJ McCol­lum added 18 points for the Blaz­ers.

“Our guys did a great job ex­e­cut­ing the de­fen­sive game plan,” Dal­las coach Rick Carlisle said.

“It wasn’t an easy game plan be­cause we were chas­ing guys who are great play­ers 30 to 40 feet away from the bas­ket.”

Lil­lard scored 25 of his 33 points in the sec­ond half as Port­land tried, but failed, to rally from a deficit that was dou­ble dig­its through most of the first three quar­ters.

“It’s an up­hill bat­tle,” Lil­lard said. “I thought we still had a chance. When you cre­ate a hole, you’ve got to fight out of it so hard that you put your­self in a po­si­tion where you got to be per­fect down the stretch.”

The Mav­er­icks closed out the first quar­ter with a 17-3 run and held a dou­ble-digit lead un­til Lil­lard’s drive and free throw made it 78-69 late in the third.

Dwight Pow­ell hit con­sec­u­tive 3-point­ers and Maxi Kle­ber fol­lowed a Devin Har­ris miss with a dunk to put Dal­las up by 14 af­ter three quar­ters.

JJ Barea’s driving layup capped a 10-0 run that gave the Mavs their big­gest lead at 92-73. Port­land got as close as six points in the game’s fi­nal min­utes, but Don­cic hit a fall-away 3 with 58.9 sec­onds to go for a 108-99 lead.

While Dal­las has heated up, Port­land has lost three in a row and eight of its past 11.

“This game was very sim­i­lar to the last two we played,” Blaz­ers coach Terry Stotts said. “Get off to a slow start, get down at half­time, make a good come­back and fall short. I think we’re all get­ting tired of it.”

Port­land’s frus­tra­tion be­came ev­i­dent in the third quar­ter when Al-Farouq Aminu and Mau­rice Hark­less were given tech­ni­cal fouls 35 sec­onds apart for ar­gu­ing with ref­eree Ed Mal­loy.

Don­cic was named Western Con­fer­ence rookie of the month for Oc­to­ber/Novem­ber. He started the team’s first 20 games and av­er­aged a team-high 18.5 points. He’s sec­ond on the team in re­bounds and as­sists.

“It means a lot,” said the Slove­nian. “It’s just an­other rea­son for me to keep work­ing hard and keep fight­ing for what I want. There’s a lot to im­prove.”

The last Dal­las player to be se­lected rookie of the month and the only one since 2004 was Yogi Fer­rell in Fe­bru­ary 2017.

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