After watching Kobe Bryant sabotage his team twice in recent weeks, dragging himself up and down the court and jacking terrible three after even more terrible three, seeing an old ass Dirk Nowitzki carry his Dallas Mavericks to victory was a welcome change. Take that, Father Time.

The difference with Dirk was that he picked his spots. He played within the system that Rick Carlisle created, the system that has rejuvenated cast-offs like Deron Williams, Charlie Villanueva, and, ugh, Raymond Felton. Dirk wasn’t firing with reckless abandon. Though he finished an inefficient (for him!) 11-24 from the field—cut to Kobe’s teammates sobbing after another one of his 4-24 nights—Dirk waited until he was defended by a Portland guard after a switch on a 1-4 pick and roll and simply shot over the smaller player. To a master like Dirk, that’s a layup.

And with the game on the line in the final few minutes, the veteran hit the two biggest shots of the night—a three to keep the Mavericks close, and a tip-in with six seconds left to tie the game.

In the end, experience won out.

The Blazers started the game in a giant hole. Again. Damian Lillard was questionable coming into the night after he sat out the second half of Monday’s game against the Clippers with a stomach bug. He ultimately suited up and dumped in Portland’s first five points, looking no worse for the wear. Those five points were all the Blazers were able to muster for some time, with Dallas ripping off a 14-0 run and pushing their lead to fifteen early in the first.

Unlike the night before against the Clippers, the Blazers didn’t have to play from behind for long. Their bench rallied after Dame (foul trouble) and Al-Farouq Aminu (general ennui) were pulled early. A mustache-free Meyers Leonard, aka the worst version of Meyers Leonard, found his stroke from the outside. Allen Crabbe hit a couple of twenty-footers. Even Gerald Henderson got in on the fun, knocking down a few triples of his own.

Towards the end of the second quarter, after two nice steals and subsequent buckets from Mason Plumlee and Dame, the Blazers had all but erased their early deficit. Their run was highlighted by CJ McCollum crossing Dirk up so badly that Nowitzki spun completely around, his back to the play as CJ stepped back for an easy three. Cold blooded old times. A Henderson three as the half expired gave the Blazers their first lead of the night at 52-50.

They weren’t done—Portland started the third by draining three straight threes and opened up and eleven point lead before Rick Carlisle could call time.

After spending all of Monday night hacking DeAndre Jordan, the Blazers got a little payback when the Mavericks decided to hack Ed Davis in the waning minutes of the fourth. Unlike Jordan, Davis managed to hit them both, and that was the end of the intentional fouling for the night. The Blazers clung to a ten point lead with about four minutes remaining and were seemingly in the driver’s seat.

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But Matthews, after hearing cheers early from the Moda Center crowd in his return to Portland (what up, LaMarcus), hit back-to-back threes to trim Portland’s lead to just four. The Blazers did their best to hold serve, but they stopped running any sort of offense and let Dame and CJ try, and fail, to finish the game out one on one. The duo finished 14-45 from the floor, though CJ was responsible for most of that damage with an unfortunate 4-21 night. The Blazers won’t win many games with their starting backcourt shooting so poorly.

The Mavericks never wavered and their veteran players finished things out strongly. They forced overtime after Lillard couldn’t get a long triple to stick at the buzzer and breezed easily through the free basketball session, finishing the game off with a 115-112 victory. Deron Williams got into the lane whenever he wanted and hit a couple tough floaters. The Blazers couldn’t figure out how to defend Dirk, even with an extra five minutes of game time added on. And fine, I’ll begrudgingly include a nice note about Raymond Felton here too, but I won’t feel good about it.

In the end, despite massive contributions from Meyers Leonard, Gerald Henderson, and Allen Crabbe, the Blazers just couldn’t hang with the wise old vets. Once again their inexperience shone through, their inability to close out games a glaring weakness for the upstart squad. Finishing out close games will come with time. Thankfully, with a trip to the lottery all but assured, the Blazers have nothing but time on their hands this season.