Damian Lillard, a powerful weapon in the Portland Trail Blazers’ arsenal, had been the pebble in the Dallas Mavericks’ shoe for most of Saturday evening, including in the final minute of the fourth quarter. With less than three minutes remaining in the game and down nine points, Dallas’ Devin Harris and Chandler Parsons nailed consecutive threes and managed to flip the American Airlines Center on its side as depressed fans meekly filed to the nearest exit. Hope glimmered as fans casually turned their heads back to the court, taking in a fraction of the final act of heroic proportions that was about to unfold. In mere seconds, everything Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and the rest of the Trail Blazers had built during the first three quarters was about to come crashing to the ground if either of the two leading scorers didn’t act fast. In those last seconds, Lillard took it upon himself to attempt to widen the narrowing gap himself (as a Harris layup brought the home team within three points), and took a shot from the three.
Dallas had control of the ball and moved it under their own net, but after Monta Ellis failed to get the ball to fall, a cold gasp sounded from the crowd since they knew their team struggled in rebounding as of late. Dirk Nowitzki had been cowering in a love-hate relationship with his shot lately, something that not only bothered him, but the Western Conference standings as well. Perhaps this is why the Blazers thought he wasn’t worthy enough to guard? If they grossly underestimated the man, Portland would clearly be playing with fire and ran the risk of a nasty burn. After Devin Harris managed to get an offensive board, he tossed the ball to an open Ellis, who then passed to Dirk, his doe eyes restlessly focused on the net.
With 20 seconds left, the 36-year-old German who had received heavy citizen from both insiders and outsiders regarding his supposed drooping shot, Dirk again proved why he defies the NBA age barrier.
“(They) basically pitched a shutout in those in those last two minutes to get to overtime,” Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle said of his team’s playing. “Then we got some momentum.”
The momentum came in the form of Parsons, who excelled in overtime and shot 10 of his total 20 points in the five-minute overage. “They tried to put Lillard on me,” Parsons told the media after being asked about his complete extra period take over. “They kept switching pick-and-rolls so I just tried to create a mismatch and stay confident. I missed a lot of bunnies and some real open shots early in the game but that was such a good team win and no one hung their heads.”
With such a captivating performance, one had to wonder if this was a special design created inside Carlisle’s prismatic brain? Or was it on a whim? “There were openings for him,” Carlisle said of Parsons. “But Parsons did a great job of just recognizing scenes and attacking them.”
Striking first blood first in overtime helped Dallas drive the knife home as they walked away victorious, their 111-101 win over one of the strongest teams in the West still echoing in the minds of Mavericks fans who left the AAC on a cloud.
The Mavericks move on to face the Los Angeles Clippers Monday night.