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Terry takes over down the stretch as Mavericks edge Blazers

Nov 13, 2006 - 4:46 AM PORTLAND, Oregon (Ticker) -- LaMarcus Aldridge came on strong in his NBA debut, but Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki taught the youngster that this is a veterans' league.

Terry made all the plays down the stretch and Nowitzki collected 26 points and 10 rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks held off Aldridge and the pesky Portland Trail Blazers, 103-96.

Aldridge, who missed the first six games with a shoulder injury, was a force in the fourth quarter of his first professional game. The second overall pick in this summer's draft, Aldridge had 10 points and seven rebounds in the fourth quarter alone as the 21-year-old gave immediate proof of his potential and singlehandedly brought Portland back into the game.

"I thought I was going to struggle, but I did well," Aldridge said. "I plan to build on it every game."

But Terry made the plays when it mattered most. Aldridge pulled down an offensive rebound and dropped in a layup to cap a 17-3 run, drawing the Blazers within 86-85 with 2:21 left. But Terry answered with a difficult three-point play to expand the advantage to four.

"They made a run, they're a good young team," Terry said. "We just had to buckle down and make buckets at the offensive end."

Juan Dixon missed a 3-pointer on the other end and Terry fed Jerry Stackhouse for a layup on the ensuing fast break to make it 91-85. Portland's Zach Randolph again closed the gap with a layup, but Terry took the life out of the young Trail Blazers with a 3-pointer from the right corner as the shot clock expired.

Terry, who emerged as the team's most clutch player in last season's playoffs, scored seven of his 24 points in the fourth quarter. He finished 9-of-14 from the field and 4-of-6 from the arc en route to his third straight game of at least 23 points.

"(Terry's) been making big shots for us as soon as he got here," Nowitzki said. "He's a great clutch player. He hits big shots, makes big plays off the dribble when there is like a minute and a half to go. We are really looking for a lot in him."

Nowitzki managed only one point in the fourth quarter but still recorded his fourth double-double in six games. He also dished out three assists and did not commit a turnover in 39 minutes.

"Dirk did a great job like he has been all year of recognizing the double-team, moving it and the guy that catches the first pass doesn't shoot it," Terry said. "He penetrates and creates for others."

"No one can contain Dirk in this whole league," Aldridge added.

Nowitzki repaid the compliment to the former Texas University star.

"I like his game, I like him," Nowitzki said. "He's a very active player and very long. He shows he can put the ball on the floor a little bit. He's athletic. It's obviously very important for young guys to just keep improving and learn from year to year and game to game."

Stackhouse chipped in 16 points, nine assists and three steals for Dallas, which has won two straight games since losing its first four contests. The Mavericks shot 55 percent (38-of-69) and made 20-of-23 free throws.

Randolph and Jarrett Jack led Portland with 20 points apiece but combined to make just 12-of-32 shots. Dixon had 13 points for the Blazers, who fell behind, 18-4, in the first quarter and never led by more than two.

Portland has lost 11 straight matchups with Dallas, dating to December 23, 2003.

"They showed us why they were the Western Conference champions," Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "They pressed us on the ball and we played in too much of a rush in the first quarter. ... We might get away with that sometimes like we did against New Orleans (on Friday), but we aren't going to be able to do that against a team like Dallas."

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