PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference first round; Mavericks lead 2-0.
Already facing a big deficit, the Portland Trail Blazers could be without both members of their starting backcourt when their first-round series with the Dallas Mavericks shifts to the Rose Garden for Game 3.
“Not having them takes away from our whole team chemistry,” Wells said after the Blazers failed to capitalize on his career-best 45 points in Wednesday’s 103-99 loss to the Mavericks in Game 2.
The Blazers learned early Friday that Anderson is out indefinitely with torn cartilage in his left knee, an injury suffered in the opening minutes of Wednesday’s defeat.
While Anderson will definitely miss Game 3, the status of Pippen remains uncertain. Pippen, who took over the starting point guard duties earlier this season, sat out Wednesday due to a lingering knee injury and is a game-time decision.
“I’m feeling better,” Pippen said after taking some shots but not participating in full workouts Friday morning. “But I can’t say that I’m ready to go.”
Damon Stoudamire, who started in Pippen’s place, had nine points and five assists on Wednesday.
Portland is going to need a better effort from its bench to make up for the potential absence of both Pippen and Anderson. The Blazers’ reserves had only 18 points in Game 2, a huge drop from 39 in the opener.
Dallas did not need too much production from its bench in Game 2 because its ‘Big Three’ was outstanding.
Dallas feels pretty good now that its top three players are all contributing, unlike Game 1 when Nowitzki had 46 points, a career best and team playoff record, while Finley and Nash combined for 23.
“That game was one for the ages in Mavericks history. We can’t expect him to do that every night,” said Nash, who was 5-of-6 on 3-pointers and had eight assists. “Tonight was more indicative of the balance we need.”
Nowitzki has been leading the charge for Dallas. The All-Star forward has made 7-of-11 from 3-point range and has averaged a team-high 9.5 rebounds over the first two games.
His counterpart, Rasheed Wallace, has not fared as well.
Wallace is averaging 22 points, but he’s been forced to defend Nowitzki on the perimeter, limiting his own effectiveness on the boards. Wallace has grabbed only 10 rebounds in two games.
The Trail Blazers have lost nine straight playoff games dating to 2000 and are in jeopardy of getting swept out of the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.
“Being down 0-2 is really tough, but we’re definitely going to try to get this thing to come back to Dallas,” said Wells, who broke Clyde Drexler’s team playoff record of 42 points. “We’re not going to give up.”
Game 4 will be in Portland on Sunday.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Mavericks - 60-22, 3rd seed. Trail Blazers - 50-32, 6th seed.
TEAM LEADERS: Mavericks - Nowitzki, 35.5 ppg and 9.5 rpg; Nash, 8.5 apg. Trail Blazers - Wells, 29.0 ppg; Davis, 12.5 rpg; Pippen, 5.0 apg.
REGULAR SEASON SERIES: Tied, 2-2. Dallas held Portland to an average of just 80.5 points in winning the first two meetings, but the Blazers averaged 106.0 points in winning the next two. Nowitzki and Finley combined for 42.3 points, 18.2 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game for the Mavs, while Wallace averaged 22.7 points and 9.3 rebounds in the series for Portland.