After earning a three-point victory on Dec. 4 in New Orleans to start their four-game road trip, the Dallas Mavericks had two days of rest and are set to face their toughest challenge of the early season as they face the West-leading Portland Trail Blazers on Dec. 7.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter against the Pelicans. Monta Ellis added his second double-double of the year with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Nowitzki may be heating up, as the Big German is averaging 22 points in his last three games. He’s averaging 20.9 points for the season, while averaging 19.8 points on the road.
It looks like Mark Cuban made a terrific decision in acquiring Ellis. The shooting guard is averaging a team-high 21.6 points, 5.8 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Ellis is scoring 19 points on the road this year.
Cuban’s other acquisitions have panned out fairly well thus far.
DeJuan Blair continues to play his usual hustle ball and in certain matchups, Rick Carlisle puts Blair in the starting lineup.
Jose Calderon doesn’t lead the team in assists, as Ellis does most of the point guard duties late in games, but Calderon continues to shoot well from behind the arc. After leading the league last season in 3-point percentage, Calderon is shooting 47.8 percent, ninth in the NBA, 50 percent in his last four.
Samuel Dalembert hasn’t been what most fans had envisioned entering the season, as the Mavs big man is in the midst of trade rumors, mainly for Omer Asik of the Houston Rockets.
The Mavericks are 12-8 overall, sixth in the West, and 3-6 on the road. They sit five games back of 17-3 Portland.
The Blazers dominated from start to finish in their 130-98 home win over the Utah Jazz on Friday.
Portland outscored Utah 79-36 in the first and third quarters.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 20 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. Aldridge is having an all-star year, averaging 23.5 points per game, five points per game more than his career average. He’s also grabbing 9.7 rebounds per game.
Last season’s rookie of the year, Damian Lillard, and Wesley Matthews combined for 45 points and 9-of-12 from deep versus Utah.
After a 2-2 start, the Blazers have gone 15-1 since. Portland is on a current four-game win streak, scoring 115 points per game in that span.
Nowitzki is averaging 20.5 points and eight rebounds in 52-career games against Portland.
Dallas is 71-85 all time, including playoffs, against the Blazers.
This will be a huge win if the Mavs can get it. Nowitzki, who has scored 25 of his last 46 points in the last two fourth quarters, will need a big game, along with Ellis and need to dominate and finish quarters strong. A win will just mean that the Mavericks are different than the last two years, and can hang with the best of the conference.
Their defense has been better of late, holding the Pelicans to 20 in the fourth, and the Bobcats to 15 in the fourth quarter on Dec. 3.
Tip off is set for 10:00 p.m. ET and can be seen on NBATV.