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Blazers appear unfazed by bad loss to Mavs

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- If the Portland Trail Blazers were bothered by the beating they had just absorbed, it was hard to tell in the locker room afterward.

Dirk Nowitzki had 26 points and 15 rebounds and Steve Nash added 20 points, five assists and four rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Blazers 103-88

After getting soundly beaten by the league's hottest team, some of the Blazers gathered around a TV to watch the closing minutes of the Indiana-Seattle game before showering.

Bonzi Wells was soliciting bets as to what Gary Payton would do with the ball in the final minute, and others were talking trash about Ron Artest.

When Payton made a shot to give the Sonics the lead, Rasheed Wallace, Wells and others cheered loudly, prompting reserve Antonio Daniels to mutter, "We just got beat by 20, and they're cheering on a team in our own division.''

When Wells noticed the gathering media, he said to no one in particular, "I'm not going out tonight. I'm just going to go home and think about the game and what I could have done better.''

Seconds later, Indiana tied the game on a 3 by Artest, evoking an even louder round of hysterics.

When co-captain Scottie Pippen emerged from the shower to see what was going on, he immediately turned off the TV and closed the cabinet, even though the game was tied with seconds remaining.

When asked why he did it, a cautious Pippen said, "Players have got to address the media, and you've (the media) got to talk to the players.''

The locker room display was indicative of the enigmatic Blazers, who played at times like they expected to lose and were OK with it, a sentiment that coach Maurice Cheeks touched on.

"Just look at their record,'' he said. "We're not the only ones that haven't gotten to them.''

Michael Finley had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Mavericks, who won their third in a row to improve the NBA's best record to 17-1.

"In the second half, we were really good,'' Dallas coach Don Nelson said. "We did everything that we needed to do to win.''

Wallace scored a season-high 34 points for the Blazers, who lost
their second straight and third in four games. Derek Anderson had
13 points and eight assists. Dale Davis added a season-high 15
points and 12 rebounds.

Portland is 1-3 on its current five-game homestand, with a
stretch of seven out of eight road games looming.

Asked if he was upset with the way Portland handles losses, Pippen said: "Some guys accept losses different. You can't change who you are as a person just because you just lost a game.''

Portland has only managed to put together consecutive wins once this year, and fans are not happy with a team that was supposed to be improved.

"We're not playing hard enough and we're not playing smart enough,'' Pippen said. "I can only speak for myself, (but) we're not happy with where we are. We've struggled. All in all we're not playing well enough to be considered one of the elite teams.''

Ruben Patterson, playing in his first game since prosecutors decided not to pursue felony domestic abuse charges against him, had four points in 14 minutes. He received a lukewarm reaction from the crowd when introduced.

Damon Stoudamire, another Blazer recently in legal trouble, was
1-for-5 in 16 minutes.

After a sluggish first quarter, Dallas' final six field goals of the half were 3-pointers. Dallas made eight 3s in the quarter and 11 for the half, one off the NBA record.

"In the second quarter, we had one of those runs that we are capable of,'' Nash said. "When we get hot from the 3-point line it stretches their defense.''

The Mavs pulled away to start the fourth quarter with a 12-6 run
that took all the life out of the Blazers and the home crowd.

Dallas was 13-of-28 from 3-point distance while the Blazers were
just 3-for-17.

The first-half long-distance barrage sparked a 14-2 Dallas run
that gave the Mavs a 54-45 halftime lead.

Game notes
Dallas shares the record for 3-pointers in a half with three other teams. The Mavs sank 12 3s at Denver on Feb. 29, 1996. ... Dallas played without forward Eduardo Najera, who missed the
game with a sore left knee. ... Six teams have started the season
17-1 or better, most recently the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls, who went
on to win the NBA championship.