The lethargic first quarter ultimately cost the Mavericks tonight, even though they came back from a 15-point deficit to tie the game with the Blazers at 101 with 58.7 seconds left.
But they allowed the Blazers to make 72.7 percent of their shots in the first quarter and Portland ended the night making 58.7 percent from the field.
Dallas rested the injured Josh Howard and Jerry Stackhouse, but, of course, as we've always heard, defense is about effort and the Mavericks had that only in short stretches tonight.
Avery Johnson tried as hard as he could to win the game, but you have to wonder about the wisdom of playing Dirk Nowitzki 40 minutes. After coming back early from a high ankle sprain, Nowitzki needs to be saved for the playoffs, but that plan expired because of the Mavericks' poor showing in the first quarter.
Nowitzki led Dallas with 28 points tonight and veteran Eddie Jones had 16. But Dallas simply did not have enough offense. Jason Terry was only 3-of-15 from the field with 10 points.
The Mavericks dropped to 17-23 on the road, which is tied with Utah for the worst road record among Western playoff teams. The Mavericks have had much to feel good about with recent wins over the Warriors, Suns and Jazz. But there was little to celebrate Saturday night.
-- Jan Hubbard