The Dallas Mavericks kicked off a critical four-game Western Conference road trip in forgettable fashion as they squandered a 21-point lead and missed out on a chance to gain ground in the playoff race in Tuesday's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Seconds after hitting a game-tying 3-pointer, LaMarcus Aldridge stunned the Mavs with a jumper as time expired to give the Blazers a 106-104 win.
The defeat spoiled an otherwise solid performance for the Mavericks, who saw Dirk Nowitzki record a season-high 26 points (11-of-21 shooting) and all five starters score in double figures. Nowitzki made two fourth-quarter 3-pointers, including one with 11 seconds left to give Dallas a 104-101 lead.
After leading by as many as 21 points early in the third quarter, Portland surged ahead, 90-88, on Sasha Pavolvic's lay-up with 6:43 left. Nowitzki answered with his first 3-pointer of the game to give Dallas a 91-90 lead. He then hit a baseline fadeaway with 3:53 left to stretch the lead to 96-92.
Aldridge also hit the game-tying 3-pointer with four seconds left en route to his game-high 29 points.
It was an exceptional performance by Darren Collison, as well. He finished with 17 points, 9 assists and 3 steals. With Portland rallying, he hit a desperation 27-foot, bank-shot 3 as the shot clock expired to give Dallas a 99-94 lead with three minutes left.
What it means: It was a brutal blow to the Mavericks' playoff chances.
Portland entered the night ninth in the Western Conference, three games ahead of Dallas. The loss not only squanders a chance for the Mavericks to gain ground in the West but kicks off a key road trip on the wrong foot. Dallas next faces fifth-place Golden State on Thursday and last-place Phoenix on Friday before wrapping up the trip at second-place Oklahoma City on Monday.
Play of the game: The big shots came left and right in the final minutes. Aldridge's game winner at the buzzer came on a baseline turnaround jumper in the face of Mavs center Brandan Wright.
Stat of the night: Dallas had 16 turnovers leading to 18 Blazers points, including a key offensive foul call on O.J. Mayo's game-winning shot attempt with a second left leading to Aldridge's heroics.