Deron Williams comes up clutch as Mavs fend off furious Blazers rally from 25 points down
Deron Williams hit two clutch jumpers to help Dallas survive a scare against Portland. AP

DERON Williams came up clutch as the Dallas Mavericks fended off a furious Portland Trailblazers rally from 25 points down to eke out a 96-95 win at the Moda Center on Wednesday (Thursday, Manila time).

Williams hit two crucial jumpers in the final three minutes to help Dallas survive Portland’s fiery run from a big deficit in the third quarter.

Harrison Barnes took charge early and Seth Curry also sank three triples in the second quarter to give Dallas a 24-point lead, 62-38, at the half. Barnes also scored 12 points in the third period as the Mavericks led by as much as 25, 69-44, at the 8:08 mark of the frame.

But Damian Lillard took over and outscored the Mavs team in the third, 20-19, to lead a 19-4 run that trimmed the gap down to 10 entering the fourth, 81-71.

Portland then started the fourth with a 21-11 run to get within one, 92-91, with 2:10 left to play but Wes Matthews got a steal off Lillard and put Dallas back on top with a three-point lead, 94-91.

CJ McCollum responded with his own bucket to get Portland within one again, before Williams hit a clutch jumper for Dallas’ final points of the game with 59 seconds remaining.

Lillard scored on the drive in the next play with 44 ticks left. McCollum then blocked Barnes’ jumper on the next play to force a shot-clock violation on the Mavs. But Dallas turned to some clutch defensive plays of their own to prevent the collapse and seal the win.

Lillard got his layup blocked in the ensuing possession but Portland got the ball back with nine seconds remaining after a turnover by Williams. The Mavericks, though, escaped with the win after Lillard missed a three-pointer at the buzzer.

Barnes led the way for Dallas in scoring 26 of his 28 points in the first three quarters. Williams finished with 23 markers to help the Mavericks move up to 8-21. Matthews added 16 while Curry sank four triples for 12 points off the bench.

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Lillard led all scorers with 29, but was not enough to prevent Portland’s fourth straight loss to fall to 13-18. Allen Crabbe had 14 off the bench, including two big triples in the Blazers’ late-game rally. McCollum added 13 markers.

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