Roy scores 18 points in fourth as Portland rallies from 23 down to even series, 2-2
By Matt Calkins
Columbian staff writer
PORTLAND — Brandon Roy launched the 24-footer in the final seconds of the third quarter and watched the ball dance on the rim as if it were contemplating a decision.
Logic would say it was physics that eventually dropped it through the net. Anyone who was at the Rose Garden knows it was something more.
The Trail Blazers slipped destiny a 20 Saturday and gave fate a generous tip. Then, they watched Roy score 18 points in the fourth quarter on the way to the biggest comeback in Portland’s postseason history.
When the final horn sounded, the Blazers had somehow beaten Dallas 84-82 to even this first-round playoff series at two games apiece.
Roy’s knees may have stopped fully supporting his body months ago — but his shoulders, apparently, can still carry a team.
“It didn’t quite feel real when I was playing, and even now, it’s like I’ve been in some pretty good zones before, but none like tonight,” said Roy, who finished with 24 points in 24 minutes while shooting 9 of 13 from the field. “With everything I’ve been through this season, they just all came into that moment there on the court when guys were grabbing me and cheering me on. It was real special.”
If Saturday’s fourth quarter was a work of art for the Blazers, the third quarter was freeway graffiti. Trailing by just two points at halftime, Portland missed its first 15 shots of the second half and fell behind by 23 with 1:31 left in the third.
The incessantly boisterous Rose Garden had gone mute as it appeared the Blazers were signing over the deed to the series. Then, LaMarcus Aldridge dropped in an alley-oop lay-up, Roy rattled in the aforementioned 3-pointer, and the Blazers entered the final period within 18 points.
Just two games earlier, Roy had played a season-low eight minutes and confessed that his limited role had him on the brink of tears. He followed that with a 16-point Game 3 performance that became the talk of an entire city.
People won’t be talking about that game anymore.
Roy’s first basket of the fourth quarter Saturday came by way of a layup with 10:09 remaining that cut the lead to 15. He hit a five-foot jump shot less than two minutes later to get the Blazers to within 11. Then a 17-foot fadeaway to make it nine points, then a 13-foot step-back to make it seven.
The “Rocky III” theme music began blaring throughout the arena. Fans Franklin Stutevoss and Peter Tran were exchanging two-handed high-fives. And when Portland forward Gerald Wallace took a charge from Dirk Nowitzki with 2:32 remaining and the Blazers within six …
“That’s when I knew we were going to win,” said Nicolas Batum.
Aldridge contributed to the cause with a 10-foot turnaround, which was quickly followed by a 21-footer from Roy to bring Portland to within two. And while Shawn Marion’s nine-footer managed to put the Mavericks back up by four with 1:19 to go, Roy answered 13 seconds later with a four-point play — knocking down a 25-footer while drawing the foul and stroking home the free throw.
Fans exchanged gazes of disbelief. A TV news reporter mouthed to a radio broadcaster, “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
With 39 seconds left, Roy gave Portland a two-point lead with a nine-foot bank shot that he said he didn’t try to bank. And after both teams exchanged 3-point misses, the Mavericks’ Jason Terry heaved a 25-footer for the win that went long as the buzzer sounded.
Game over. Series tied. A 40-15 Blazers run complete.
After the game, friends hugged, fans high-fived ushers, and Roy fell into his teammates.
“I just needed to embrace someone,” he said.
It was Roy, after all, who had missed 35 games for Portland this year due to a knee completely devoid of meniscus. And it was Roy who had been an All-Star in each of his previous three seasons but failed to record a field goal three times in the past month.
While clutching Saturday night’s hero after the game, Batum said to Roy, “You’re still the man. You’re still Brandon Roy.”
Wallace, meanwhile, admitted to being awestruck.
“It was amazing. We just gave him the ball and watched,” Wallace said. “When we watch the film session tomorrow, Coach is going to ask ‘why is everyone sitting around not doing anything?’ ”
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said he knew Roy was capable of this type of outburst and that he’s been preparing as though the 26-year-old is still at All-Star form. Saturday, the coach’s fears came to fruition, leaving his star player crushed as a result.
“It was a really tough fourth quarter for us, we just couldn’t get any stops … that’s what it came down to,” Nowitzki said. “It’s definitely a tough one to sit on. Now we have to fly home for four hours on that one. Frustration is definitely at a high level.”
Despite starting the game 1 of 9, Aldridge regrouped and finished with 18 points. Andre Miller added 14 while Wallace tallied 10 points and 11 rebounds. Nowitzki had 20 points for the Mavericks, who went 5 for 17 from the field in the fourth quarter while the Blazers were 15 for 20.
“You never give up, you never quit,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. “Just a great fourth quarter for our guys.”