for this game

Nowitzki's 37 points help Mavericks cruise past Trail Blazers

Feb 14, 2008 - 5:55 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- With trade speculation running rampant, Dirk Nowitzki stood tall for the Dallas Mavericks.

Nowitzki scored a season-high 37 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as the Mavericks posted a 96-76 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.

Jason Terry scored 24 points and Erick Dampier had 10 and 10 boards for Dallas, which ended a two-game skid and also ignored trade rumors for nine-time All-Star Jason Kidd.

"It was definitely a weird day," Nowitzki said. "Nobody really knows what is going on, so I think what we had to do was try to focus on the game as much as we can. Our energy was great, we didn't really let it distract us that much.

"I am really proud of the guys how they responded to the rumors. We don't know what's going on from here forward, but we have a big game (vs. Phoenix) tomorrow and have to do more of the same tomorrow."

Earlier Wednesday, it was reported that the Mavericks and New Jersey Nets were poised to complete a blockbuster deal to send Kidd and forward Malik Allen to Dallas for guard Devin Harris, veteran swingman Jerry Stackhouse, center DeSagana Diop, swingman Devean George and guard Maurice Ager.

However, a story on indicated that George has exercised his right to block the trade.

"It was all coming down on me and my little salary," said George, who was making just over $2.3 million for this season. "It is all coming down on me and I am being thrown to the wolves, but I will be that guy to everybody. If I am the bad guy, people who know me know that I am not like that, but it is what it is.

"I just want to look over things and have it explained to me what everything means. What that would mean, what are my options. Just everything to protect me because there are a lot of legal things that players really don't know."

Despite the potential distractions, Nowitzki took it to the Trail Blazers from the very beginning.

The reigning league Most Valuable Player scored 13 points in the first quarter as the Mavericks ended the period leading, 28-15. Nowitzki, who shot 5-of-10 in the quarter, had 20 at halftime as Dallas led, 54-43, at the break.

"Both Nowitzki and Terry came out and played like all-stars," Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "In the first half Dirk just took control of the game and established that they were going to run the offense through him. He did a good job of scoring and making decisions with the ball."

The seven-time All-Star, who made 13-of-26 shots overall, had 28 points at the end of three periods with the Mavericks leading, 73-59.

"Dirk was really great tonight on both ends of the floor," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said.

Terry also had 22 of his total entering the final quarter.

George, who at least for now put the halt to any trade involving Kidd, missed all 11 of his field goal attempts, including 0-of-4 from 3-point range.

"The potential trade was a distraction all day," George said. "I was on the phone from 11 a.m. until tip-off and I don't know what I am doing. Whether I am coming, going, staying, trying to pack stuff up at home, but nothing has happened yet."

Despite George's horrid shooting night, Dallas managed to shoot 43 percent (36-of-83).

"Devean is a pro," Johnson said. "Devean is a three-time champion and he played some awesome defense tonight. Obviously, offensively, it wasn't one of his better nights, but he got after it. He's a pro's pro, and that's what we love about him."

Brandon Roy scored 25 points and Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw each added 13 for Portland, which shot 41 percent (31-of-75) and has lost four in a row for the first time since a four-game skid from November 26-December 2.

"I think we look mentally fatigued," McMillan said. "Our guys have pretty much looked kind of drained for the last couple weeks. They're trying but right now we're just not able to put together a 48-minute game."