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Blazers win fifth straight with domination of Mavs

The SportsXchange

DALLAS -- The Portland Trail Blazers are rolling again.

The NBA's surprise team of the season hit a recent snag but bounced back with five consecutive victories, the latest being Saturday night's near-flawless 127-111 domination of the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center.

The Blazers were coming off a big win at San Antonio on Friday night and didn't let up 24 hours later, scoring 35 points in the first quarter for a 12-point lead and 71 points in the first half on 59.1 percent shooting from the field to lead Dallas 71-52 at halftime.

"I was really proud of the way our team played tonight, especially on the heels of an emotional win in San Antonio last night," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "Our resolve, defensively, I thought was very good and got us into a position to have a large lead. I thought it was a really good win for us, obviously."

Portland extended the lead to 104-70 after three quarters. Only a fourth-quarter, garbage-time run brought the score back to a more respectable margin -- and brought the Blazers' starters back into the game with about 4:30 to play and Portland's massive lead knocked down to 113-98.

"We are just playing great basketball right now," said Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who had a big night with 30 points and 12 rebounds. "I think guys are buying in defensively. Whenever guys guard the way they can, this team is good."

At 31-9, the Blazers are tied with the Spurs for the best record in the rugged Western Conference.

The Mavericks (24-18) were also coming off a win on Friday night at Phoenix to wrap up the first half of the season with a seven-game improvement over last season. This was not how they hoped to start the second half of the season in front of the home fans.

The Mavericks led 6-4 with 9:25 to go in the first quarter and never got close again after a 16-5 Blazers run put them ahead 30-16.

Aldridge, a Dallas native, always has monster performances in his hometown and he did so again. He finished with a plus-40 rating in 32 minutes and was 11 of 18 from the floor with two assists and three steals. Forward Nicolas Batum had 21 points, 15 of which came in the explosive first quarter.

All five Blazers starters scored in double figures, with center Robin Lopez going for 16 points and 11 rebounds, point guard Damian Lillard posting 14 points and 10 assists and shooting guard Wesley Matthews adding 10 points.

Portland controlled every aspect of the game, including out-rebounding Dallas 30-13 in the first half and 55-30 for the game.

"We regressed tonight. The first three quarters are beyond embarrassing," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of his team's defense. "We were poor on offense, too, but we weren't together. We weren't playing together. We weren't helping each other. We do that against a quality team -- a high level quality team like Portland -- they're going to make you pay a heavy price."

Forward Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 18 points on 6-of-17 shooting from the field. Guard Monta Ellis had 15 points, Jae Crowder and DeJuan Blair each had 13 points and Vince Carter had 11.

"Other than saying 'beyond embarrassing,' I don't know what to say," Carlisle said. "The guys that were in there in the fourth quarter really fought; they won the quarter 41-23, which is great. I'm going to find guys that will fight and get them in the game. Simple as that."

Portland moved to 2-0 on their difficult four-games-in-five-nights road swing that winds through Houston on Monday night and finishes at Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

NOTES: Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined $100,000 by the league prior to Saturday's game for confronting the referees after Wednesday's loss at the Los Angeles Clippers. Cuban, who has been touting the fact that he wanted to be fined one last time before NBA commissioner David Stern steps down Feb. 1, announced the fine via his Twitter account. ... Mavericks G Devin Harris made his season debut after missing the first 41 games with a toe injury. ... Mavericks G Jose Calderon was back in the starting lineup despite being a game-time decision after sustaining a right knee contusion Sunday at Phoenix. ... The Trail Blazers started the same lineup for the 40th consecutive game. They are the only team to start the same lineup in every game it has played this season.

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