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Dallas Mavericks: What Just Happened?


The only logical question to ask … How in the world?

Seriously, after watching that game, all you can do is shrug your shoulders and go, “OK, why not?”

The Dallas Mavericks were up 30 — yes, that’s 30 as in Thirty — in the second quarter over a Portland Trail Blazers team that’s clearly better than them, blew the lead, trailed by six with over four minutes to go and still found a way to win 103-98 on Friday at the American Airlines Center.

Again, after noting all of that, I ask, how?

Well, to be honest, there’s no definitive answer for that question. This game should’ve been over by halftime, but that’s reasonable thinking. The Mavs have been the kings at having big leads and finding ways to blow them all year.

You would like to think that a 30-point lead is big enough to keep. Not with this team, not with this season. Yet, by the grace of the basketball gods, the Mavs snapped their three-game losing streak and won for the first time in March — a month with a very daunting schedule.

For the first 24 minutes, Dallas played perhaps its best first half of the entire year. The Mavs held Portland to a season-low 10 first-quarter points and the duo of LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard were pretty much non-existent.

What happened in the final 24 minutes? There are only a select group of people that can tell you exactly what happened; the players and coaches that were on the AAC floor on Friday night. Because after that, it becomes a blur. Aldridge scored 18 points in the third quarter, Portland eventually climbed out of the 30-point hole to take a lead and Dallas somehow went into the fourth quarter up by a single point.

Then the fourth becomes the most entertaining fourth quarter all season for Dallas, as the Mavs closed the game on a 11-0 run to get a much-needed impressive win that came with mild heart attacks along the way.

And the Player of the Game? You guessed it; the X-Factor himself, Devin Harris.

Dirk Nowitzki gave the Mavs his usual 22 points, but he only had three of those points in the fourth quarter. I mentioned a week ago that for Dallas to make a quality playoff push, Harris had to be that guy off the bench to be the difference maker.

The two-time Maverick scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, including the eventual game-winning 3-point play with 24.2 seconds left to put Dallas up by three. Harris played the bulk of the second half, despite Jose Calderon exploding for 19 points, all in the first half.

Harris isn’t being asked to score 10 points in a quarter every night. But he took on that closer role and did more than exceptionally well to keep the Mavs from suffering the most unfathomable of losses possible.

But Dallas is back to 11 games over .500 and somehow wins the season series 2-1 over one of the top teams in the Western Conference. The Mavs also cling to that No. 8 seed in the playoffs, after Memphis got an impressive win in Chicago early Friday night.

But I propose an idea the next time this happens again. Before every Mavs game, everyone should have their favorite alcoholic beverage near by and prepare to do doubles of that. Because this Mavs team, loaded with promise and potential to go far as a low-seed threat, constantly finds ways to either 1) play to the level of their opponent, or 2) blow leads that shouldn’t be given away.

There’s not a soul on this planet who can fathom what would happen if Dallas lost this game. The Dallas Metroplex would’ve gone up in flames. The Mavs could be seeded much higher, and have a more respectable record in a stacked Western Conference, if they didn’t find ways to lose games they shouldn’t.

So put that into perspective; a team known for blowing leads all year long could’ve suffered the most embarrassing defeat of the season with 19 games to go. There’s no possible way the Mavs would have recovered from that, and no one would be shocked if they ended up missing the playoffs had they lost on Friday.

But this Dallas team is finding odd ways to win and lose. Never before have heart attacks felt so weird coming out of a game. The Mavs played amazing defense in the first quarter, and then forgot how to the last three. Yet they still won, even up 30 points at one point.

Again, if I haven’t emphasized that enough, it was a 30-point lead. And Dallas almost lost the game.

So what do we make of this win? Who in the world knows? All I know, is that Dallas is still sitting in eighth in the Western Conference, a game ahead of Memphis and two games behind Golden State for sixth.

And all I know is that the Mavs won on Friday. How?

Not a clue.

You can reach Danny Webster on Twitter @DannyWebster21.

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