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Nowitzki, Mavs hang on to beat Portland

Dec 16, 2010 - 8:57 AM Dallas, TX (Sports Network) - Dirk Nowitzki scored 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and hit a series of big shots down the stretch to help Dallas pull out a 103-98 victory over Portland.

The Mavericks led by as many as 17, but needed a late push to rebound from Monday's loss to Milwaukee. That setback snapped a 12-game win streak, and Wednesday's victory improved Dallas' record to 20-5.

Caron Butler scored 23 points to lead the Mavericks, who made 20-of-21 free throws and shot 54 percent.

LaMarcus Aldridge netted a season-high 35 points to go with 10 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to prevent Portland from losing a third consecutive game.

"It's tough to deal with," Aldridge said of the loss. "But we've just got to take what we did to come back [from] 17 down and start games off like that, more confident with a better rhythm."

The Trail Blazers were down by eight with five minutes remaining, but rallied to tie the game. Aldridge had the final three buckets of the run, including a dunk that made it a 91-91 game with three minutes to play.

But Nowitzki kept Dallas in front, sinking a layup at the other end. After Aldridge got a finger-roll to fall, Nowitzki quickly shifted to the lane and knocked down a step-back jumper.

Thanks to a Portland turnover, Dallas had a fastbreak chance and didn't cash in. But the Mavericks got enough chances at the basket for Butler to draw a foul, and he made both attempts to give Dallas a 97-93 edge with 1:29 left.

Andre Miller drove to the hoop at the other end and was surrounded by Mavericks with no passing option. He appeared to be fouled, but no whistle blew and Dallas came away with the ball.

The turnover led to Nowitzki's jumper with 54.8 seconds on the clock and a 99-93 Mavs edge.

Portland still had a chance after Nicolas Batum drilled a three, which had the Blazers within 101-98 with 24 seconds left. Portland let nearly half the remaining time expire before fouling Jason Terry, who made his two shots to ensure Dallas came away with a win after blowing its big lead.

"Right now that has kind of been the trend," said Mavericks guard Jason Kidd. "We get up by 20 and then all of the sudden we find ourselves up only two or three points, so we need to figure that out and understand as a team that once we have a team down, we've got to keep them done."

Dallas held a 17-14 edge after the first quarter, which was so low-scoring because of Portland shooting 28 percent and the Mavericks turning the ball over six times.

Both offenses started to come around in the second quarter, but the Mavericks made 11-of-11 free throws in the period to take control. They closed the half with a 15-4 run and held a 51-39 advantage at the break.

Portland trailed throughout the third quarter, but trimmed its deficit to single digits. Only Butler's layup with 0.9 seconds left allowed Dallas to take a 78-68 lead to the fourth, and the Blazers scored the first five points of the final quarter.

Game Notes

Kidd finished with 11 points, seven boards and six assists for Dallas...Wes Matthews scored 17 points for Portland, while Batum added 11...The Blazers start a three-game homestand Friday against Minnesota...Dallas hosts Phoenix on Friday.