After running out to a 26-point lead, the Dallas Mavericks received a bit of a scare form the Portland Trail Blazers in the fourth quarter of Sunday night's contest at the Rose Garden. But the Mavs were barely able to hang on, grabbing a 96-91 victory and handing the Blazers their eighth straight loss.
Chris Kaman scored a season-high 26 points and also snared 11 rebounds for the Mavs, who helped keep their slim playoff hopes alive with the narrow victory. Dallas is now 2½ games behind the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Shawn Marion added 20 points on 10-of-14 shooting.
The Mavs jumped out to an 11-point lead after the first quarter and extended it to 24 at the break. The lead was 20 heading into the final frame before Blazers rookie Will Barton led a spirited charge. Barton scored 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, and he also notched 13 rebounds and six assists on the night. Portland had the ball down three with 12.5 seconds to go, but a missed layup by Damian Lillard sealed their fate.
Barton got his big opportunity thanks to a sprained ankle to starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews in the second quarter. Lillard struggled for much of the night, shooting just 6-of-19 from the field and scoring 15 points. LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points and six rebounds.
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