November 05, 2014

The Dallas Mavericks turned in one of their top performances to slow a miserable stretch and can sweep a home-and-home set that holds heavy playoff implications for an encore.

Another win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night would do wonders for the visiting Mavericks' postseason outlook while tightening the race for the Western Conference's final three spots - and lessening the blow of a key injury.

Dallas (35-35) seemed comfortably in playoff position to start March but entered Sunday's home contest against the Trail Blazers (36-35) mired in a 1-7 slump.

A dominant overtime period provided the Mavericks some relief as they pulled away for a 132-120 win to inch closer to sixth-seeded Portland. They also gained a tiebreaker by winning the first two of the three-game series while leaving the teams in the West's Nos. 6-9 spots - including Houston and Utah - separated by 1 1/2 games.

Dallas avoided its third straight loss thanks to season-best performances from Dirk Nowitzki and Deron Williams. Nowitzki turned back the clock with 40 points and Williams had 31 with 16 assists, all season highs.

Williams drained a tiebreaking 3-pointer in overtime before eight straight points from Nowitzki, all off passes from the point guard.

Nowitzki made 16 of 26 shots for his 20th career 40-point game and first since Jan. 11, 2014. It was the NBA's first by a 37-year-old since Karl Malone in 2000-01. Nowitzki has averaged 26.8 points while shooting 54.4 percent in eight consecutive 20-point performances.

Williams logged his first 30-point game since Dec. 1 - also against the Trail Blazers - and first 15-assist game since Feb. 20, 2015. It was just his second career performance reaching both of those numbers and the first for a Maverick since Jason Kidd in 1996.

The two starters stepped up with Chandler Parsons out, but so did little-used rookie Salah Mejri off the bench. He posted 13 points with 14 rebounds and six blocks in nearly 33 minutes. He logged just over 198 minutes in his first 23 games.

''Everything's in play,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. ''We're a team that needs all of our pieces.''

Even moreso after Tuesday's news that Parsons will likely undergo season-ending arthroscopic surgery for a meniscus tear in his right knee. Parsons, who averaged 18.9 points in his last 27 games, will not make Dallas' four-game road trip, though Carlisle declined to discuss the specifics.

Parsons is expected to seek a second opinion.

Dallas is opening a stretch with eight of 12 games away from home to close the season. The Mavericks are 15-18 on the road, losing seven of their last 10.

Portland, meanwhile, lost seven of eight road games during a 3-7 funk but plays eight of its final 11 at home, where it is riding a 13-3 stretch.

The Trail Blazers have cooled since an 18-4 spurt from Jan. 10-March 1. Damian Lillard had a chance to give Portland its first win streak since then with a good look at a 3-pointer at the regulation buzzer in Dallas, but it bounced off the front rim.

Lillard finished with 26 points but needed 26 shots to get there, making only eight.

''I shot a shot that I'm really comfortable shooting and it just didn't go in,'' Lillard said. ''I was kind of disappointed I couldn't end the game right there.''

The Mavericks also earned a 115-112 overtime victory in Portland on Dec. 1, their third straight victory in this series. Williams finished with 30 points, eight assists and six rebounds while Nowitzki added 28, six and seven.

Lillard had 25, 10 and eight.

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