The difference is striking—compared with Monday's high-pitched blood match against the Lakers, this evening at the Rose Garden feels more like an afternoon at a hippie commune. And so goes the comedown. The trick is to stay just high enough to knock off these assholes from Texas, led by the big ugly German. That's right, ladies and gentleman, the Dallas Mavericks.

That they have been whooped by the Mavericks in their last two meetings (including the Christmas Day Debacle) ought to provide the Blazers with at least a little extra fuel in case the Laker nitro-burst cashed out the tank.

- No Rudy tonight. Folks on press row who saw him before the game say he looked pretty well doped up. Fernandez is, however, with the team, sitting behind the bench.
- Spread is Blazers with a whopping -7 1/2
- Josh Howard and Jerry Stackhouse are both out for the Mavs, which helps explain the spread.


10:42 - Steve Blake ripping a rebound away from Dirk Nowitzki is like watching a baby steal candy from a man. A big ugly German man. On the other end Erick Dampier (or as Shaq calls him, Ericka) lays in an alley oop. A rare bit of finesse, whose club fisted hands could only do so by accident. 8-6, Dallas.

7:17 - Three consecutive blocks. First Joel swats a JJ Barea layup (saving Steve Blake considerable embarrassment). Then Dirk fishes out Batum's drive attempt. Not to be outdone, Nicolas runs back to swat Antoine Wright at the rim. Steve Blake caps the wild exchange with a three. Portland 11, Dallas 14.

4:12 - Blake with another three to get back the one Barrea just got. These little bastards are going at each other, and Blake needs to make his counterpart, Barea, work. The little runt poured in 26 last time around in Dallas and was, more or less, the deciding factor. 17-14, Dallas.

2:50 - Something you don't often hear said about Channing Frye: Nice Fucking Defense! Frye hustles back to stop a breaking Antoine Wright, gets in front, doesn't foul, and forces Wright into an airball. Hot damn, Channing—didn't know you had it in you. Portland 20, Dallas 24.

:00 - Channing continues the fight, wrestling away a defensive rebound from the Ugly German. Outlet to Sergio, who finds a Travis Outlaw perched in the corner and he nails it. Catfish's hot three point shooting continues and the second unit comes in and gets the lead back from Dallas. At the end of one, Portland 25, Dallas 24.

It's not just Travis' three point shooting that's still smoking—it's the Blazers, who shot 66% from behind the arc in the first, led by Steve Blake, who nailed three in four attempts.


10:58 - Oh GODDAMMIT! After a beautiful ball-fake and behind the back pass to a cutting LaMarcus Aldridge in the lane Jason Terry goes and blows everything by taking the foul on Aldridge to stop the showtime jam. FUCK!

6:32 - Crap. Dirk is hitting that un-defendable fadeaway turnaround jumper with consistency. Travis Outlaw is on Dirk now, and to his credit, he's getting up-in-his-shit physical. But it just doesn't matter when that high-arching shot is falling. Dirk has a whopping 17 all of a sudden, putting Dallas up 40-32.

4:20 - Sergio gets whistled quite unfairly for a foul on JJ Barea, who scored on the knifing layup. Just because ol' Serg decided not to play any actual defense doesn't mean he ought to be hit with the foul. He got WELL out of the way, like, "come on in to my house JJ! I'm in the other room taking a siesta." Dallas 47, Portland 39.

1:23 - Dallas running a very small three guard lineup with Barea, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry, who just nailed a three (he has 15 points so far). The little turds are carving up the Portland defense. So the question is—and I'm asking,—s it better to go small and try to match quickness, or go big and try to pound these dudes? At the moment, the Blazers are stuck somewhere in the middle with Bayless, Roy and Outlaw as the three smallest Blazers.

0:00 - Roy nails a corner three, which the Blazers desperately needed to keep this thing manageable. Despite the matchup issues, Portland and their crowd just seem flat, the post-Laker letdown fear everyone had been predictably worried about. At the half, Portland 44, Dallas 54.


9:58 - Dirk hits another one of his pet shots, a difficult fading rainbow from the corner of the key. On the following possession Brandon Roy uses his trademark crossover to get free in the lane, switches hands in the air but the ball rolls around and off the rim. To have a chance, he Blazers need the luck of these two to flip. 61-48, Dallas.

7:30 - A strange stat: Steve Blake goes three of four from behind the three point line in the first half, yet only plays 12 minutes. He just missed an open three. Out of rhythm? The Blazers, however, a finding theirs. Or, perhaps more accurately, they've jacked up the energy. A few makes from Aldridge, inside and out, and the lead shrinks to seven. Timeout Dallas, who lead 61-54.

6:15 - After fiddling around, attempting and failing to take on a few pick and rolls, LaMarcus Aldridge simply cuts from the three point line, leaving Dirk in the fucking dust, cocks his right arm way back and throws a ferocious tomahawk over the outstretched hand of Erika Dampier, who body checks Aldridge in the process. It doesn't matter, however, as LaMarcus scores on easily on of the top 10 Blazer dunks of the season. Portland 57, Dallas 61.

3:56 - MMMMM-MMMM! Now THAT's what you like to see—instead of swatting the ball into the stands, The Vanilla Gorrilla grabs the block, palms it and holds. Block AND turnover. Yesssir. A few buckets from Roy and a few more free throws brings the Blazers within three. Steve Blake's three point attempt rolls around and around like the water in a toilet bowl but somehow splashes out at the very last second...

2:08 - Dirk heat checks, pulling up for a three on the break. It rattles out and Dampier (who's, with 12, is on a tear as well, scoring well above his 5.3 PPG season average) grabs the board. Passes out to Terry who makes good on the second three point try. EEEEeiiiahc. Dallas needed that one. 72-65, Mavs.

:00 - Back-breaker of a final possession. Holding for what should be the quarter's last shot a driving Travis Outlaw is stripped. Jason Kidd (who I'm told is black?!) takes the ball the length of the court for a layup. Ouch. 74-67, Dallas.


11:07 - Just when things look bleak Travis Outlaw caps a quick little four-point run with a layup on the break. With that, Dallas calls timeout. Portland 71, Dallas 74.

6:46 - The Mavs are leaving the door open, but the Blazers can't seem to step through it. Every time Portland closes the gap, Dallas wedges it open again. The Blazers, believe it or not, have just got their field goal percentage to %40 for the game. 81-77... no, scratch that. Jason Terry just hit ANOTHER timely three after LaMarcus Aldridge boned one of his own. 84-77, Dallas.

4:15 - With Dirk on the bench, Terry is carrying the Mavs. Blazers are getting scrap points, but failing to execute any real solid offense. They're down five, 86-81.

3:00 - The Ugly German, fresh off a stint on the bench, clanks to consecutive threes. Actually, one was an airball, which doesn't even qualify as a "clank." Travis Outlaw, on the other hand, drains one from deep. Finally the Blazers get an easy bucket, a well run drive and kick to the corner. Portland within two, 86-84.

2:07 - Roy misses a wide-open 12 footer. EEEeeeecchhhh! But the Blazers get a stop...

1:03 - ...And Outlaw can't make the high-fading jumpshot fall. Dirk ends the drought in typical fashion, a corner of the key leaner. A big shot and he's doing the big-balls strut... RRRRRRAGH! Mavs up four, 88-84.

:56 - Whoa! Right quick Travis Outlaw darts from the three point line and lays it in at the rim. Then he steals from Kidd and falls on the ball, but throws the ball away, looking for a heavily defended Brandon Roy. And FUCKING HELL, DIRK NOWITZKI DROPS A THREE. The officials change the mark, calling Dirk's shot a two, but The Mavs are still up four with just 17.1 seconds to go. An anxious crowd may be feeling defeats pangs for the first time in 12 games...

:9.2 - Back to the terrible execution. Channing Frye ends up missing a three, the Blazers play the foul game and Dallas goes up six. Followed by quick hitting Travis Outlaw three the Blazers are down by three and it's Mavs ball. If they make a free throw—and they've got guys to do so—it's over. 6.5 seconds to play, 92-89 Dallas.

:5.9 - Jason Terry at the line... HE MISSES THE FIRST... ....... the second, however, swishes. A Blazers miss, a Mavs rebound and that'll do it. Damn. First loss here in 12 games, just the sixth of the season. With the win, Dallas concludes a season sweep and the Blazers fail to grab a win that would've given them sole ownership of first place in the NW division. Three Blazers with 20+, Roy (22), Aldridge (23 + 11 boards) and Outlaw (20). But 29 from Dirk and 24 from Jason Terry gave the Mavs the edge... or maybe it was the Blazers non-existent execution. That's what I'll say.