PORTLAND - There’s only one thing better than a buzzer-beating win -- a buzzer-beating win after rallying from a 21-point deficit.
The Trail Blazers did that on Tuesday night at the Rose Garden, and I’m arguing it was one of the best games I’ve seen in a long time. Maybe one of the best we’ve all seen in a long time?
Maybe the best since Brandon Roy went all heroic on the Mavericks in game four of the opening round of the 2010 playoffs to help Portland even that series at 2.
The Blazers were equal parts atrocious and amazing.
Their defense was matador style, as they allowed virtually every Maverick on the floor to get right by them. With 6:48 to go in the third quarter, Dallas led 73-53.
By the end of that quarter, it was 80-74. Then the real fireworks began. Sasha Pavlovic with a dunk to tie the game at 88.
Next trip down, Pavlovic on the drive with a foul to give Portland the lead.
From there, the two traded big blows like Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed did in Rocky I and II. Those fights earned Balboa a statue at the Philadelphia Art Museum. Won’t be any statues erected in downtown Portland just yet, but the final 6:43 of this game was statue-worthy.
Dirk Nowitzki hit shot after shot, and when Brandon Wright made one too, the Mavericks appeared to have staved off the rallying Blazers by taking a 101-94 lead with 2:12 remaining.
But clutch free throw shooting (Wesley Matthews and LaMarcus Aldridge each made a pair), brought the Blazers to within three.
That was more than close enough. Nic Batum, ailing wrist and all, tied the game with a flick of the wrist as he hit a deep three. Nowitski answered. 104-101, and only 11 seconds remaining.
This is where the night went from crazy to surreal. Dallas defended Portland’s next possession perfectly. The only open man, down three, was a man who hadn’t hit a three-point basket all season.
LaMarcus Aldridge though, retreated to the three point line, and made a catch-n-shoot bucket that looked so fluid and so practiced, it made you wonder if he would be invited to participate in the NBA’s three-point shooting contest at the upcoming All-Star weekend.
With four seconds left, the game was knotted at 104.
Portland drew an offensive foul, (which the league has since stated should’ve been called as a blocking foul on the Blazers). But if the refs got it wrong, the Blazers were going to get it right.
Matthews spotted Aldridge in his familiar spot on the left block. With 1.5 seconds to execute this feat, Aldridge turned, and fired and as the horn sounded, splashing down the final two of his 29 points on the night.
Game over! Blazers 106, Mavericks 104.
“Just another win,” head coach Terry Stotts deadpanned.
Portland, by the way, leads the league in wins when trailing by 11 or more points.
“I was surprised they threw it to me,” Aldridge said of his tying basket. “But I’m not surprised I made it.”
No one should be surprised the two-time All-Star made big shots. We should all be shocked those shots were big enough to help the team win at the buzzer after trailing by as many as 21 points.