Those beards aren't coming off yet.
Chris Kaman scored a season-high 26 points and the unshaven Dallas Mavericks boosted their faint playoff hopes with a 96-91 victory over the slumping Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night.
Kaman added 11 rebounds for the Mavericks, who were 2 1/2 games back of Utah for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference, and two games behind the Lakers. Dallas (38-39) has just five games left, but four of those are at home.
Led by veteran Dirk Nowitzki, a handful of the Mavs have been growing out their beards since early February, vowing not to shave until they reach .500 and make the playoffs. Kaman is among them.
"I'm not sure how excited everyone else is about it because I don't think they like how it looks,'' he said. "But I'm not really thinking about it because it's important for us to finish the season on a good note and we have the next five games to do that.''
After the game, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said he held Nowitzki out of the fourth quarter because of a sore foot. Nowitzki said it wasn't serious and he would play Wednesday when the Mavericks host Phoenix
"We just felt like, either way, it was more important to keep him out,'' Carlisle said.
The Mavs led by as many as 26 points, but the Blazers closed the gap in the fourth quarter - even after sitting most of their starters.
Rookie Will Barton came off the bench with 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Blazers, who have lost eight straight for their longest losing streak since the 2005-06 season. Portland (33-44) was eliminated from the playoffs after Friday night's 116-98 loss to the Houston Rockets.
Rookie Damian Lillard's layup narrowed Dallas' lead to 88-80 with 4:48 left. The Blazers pulled closer at 88-83 on Barton's jumper.
O.J. Mayo and Shawn Marion had consecutive baskets to slow Portland's momentum, but Eric Maynor's layup and a pair of free throws got the Blazers within 94-91 with 39 seconds left.
After Mayo missed a 3-pointer on the other end, Lillard's attempted layup with 6.9 seconds to go didn't fall. Marion scored at the buzzer for the final margin.
"We're one of those teams that lets other teams back in so it was kind of frustrating, but we're lucky there wasn't much time left on the clock because I think it might have been a different game,'' Kaman said.
Barton's breakout performance had the Blazers in an upbeat mood following the game, despite the loss. Barton had 18 points and 11 rebounds in the second half alone.
"Yeah Willie B! Yeah Willie B!'' two-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge shouted a cross the locker room. "What did you eat today?''
Barton, who was a second-round pick by the Blazers out of Memphis, was brimming with confidence.
"Everyone on the team says I've got a special talent,'' he said. "You've just got to wait your turn sometimes.''
Portland was without starting forward Nicolas Batum for the third straight game because of a sore right shoulder. Victor Claver started in his place.
Elton Brand missed his third straight game for the Mavericks with a sore right calf.
The Mavs went up 13-3 early and Kaman took over with 12 points in the opening six minutes alone. His short jumper late in the second quarter gave Dallas a 46-24 lead.
The Blazers were stung when guard Wesley Matthews was helped off the court with a right ankle injury with 8:27 left in the second quarter. The extent of the injury was not immediately known but Matthews was on crutches following the game.
The three-year NBA veteran was averaging 15 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists going into the game.
The Mavericks led 56-32 at the break. Dallas extended the lead to 79-53 late in the third quarter after Vince Carter's 3-pointer.
With an 81-61 Dallas lead going into the final quarter, Portland rested its starters except for Lillard, a five-time rookie of the month. The young group narrowed the Mavs' lead to 86-72 after Maynor's long jumper with 7:37 left.
Barton got alley-oops from Maynor for back-to-back dunks, making it 86-76. The Blazers re-inserted some of their starters, including Aldridge, for the final push but came up short.
As for his beard, Kaman said he's thinking about keeping it.
"I don't care it's a lot of work. I just let it go,'' he said. "It's like a Chia Pet.''
Those beards aren't coming off yet.
3A AREA PLAYOFFS: Verdigris battles Tahlequah Sequoyah in Checotah
Verdigris senior guard Caitlyn Hanslovan drained two key 3-pointers during Saturday’s Class 3A Regional Finals that provided a spark and a huge win over Vian.
Hanslovan, who is accustomed to winning state championships in soccer, will look to move the No. 3-ranked Lady Cardinals one step closer toward a berth in the 3A State Tournament at 6:30 p.m. on Friday in the area finals against Tahlequah Sequoyah at Checotah High School.
Catoosa HS set to host Class 6A Girls Area; 5A Boys Area tourneys
For high school basketball enthusiasts in Rogers County, Catoosa High School is the place to be on Thursday and Friday.
Catoosa High School will host the Class 6A Girls Area and Class 5A Boys Area over the two-day period.
Class 3A Regional Champions
It’s takes two to tango and the Verdigris basketball teams are dancing their way to the Class 3A Area Finals.
With a state tournament berth on the line Friday night, both Verdigris teams return to a familiar place on the road to state in Oklahoma City.
The Class 3A No. 3-ranked Lady Cardinals waltzed past Vian, 58-46 and the No. 4-ranked Cardinals decked Eufaula, 66-53 to cap off the regional championship night Saturday inside the Jack Collins Fieldhouse.
Claremore set to host 4A Area Basketball Tournament
Claremore High School will be a busy place Thursday through Saturday with several of the state’s top Class 4A basketball teams competing in the area tournament.
West Virginia, Baylor top Big 12 Women's BB Tourney
It took West Virginia two years to make a splash in the Big 12.
The seventh-ranked Mountaineers earned a share of the regular-season title in their second year in the league and take a 10-game win streak into the conference tournament that starts Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
BIG 12 MBB: No. 16 Iowa State looks to close with win over Oklahoma State
Iowa State is more than ready for the postseason after playing 17 games in the nation's most grueling conference.
Still, the Cyclones wouldn't mind picking up a little momentum before heading to the Big 12 tournament and beyond.
No. 16 Iowa State (22-7, 10-7 Big 12) has dropped its last two games, road losses to Kansas State and Baylor, after going 7-1 in February.
NBA CAPSULES: Duncan paces Spurs past Heat
Tim Duncan had 23 points and 11 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs never trailed against the Miami Heat, weathering a sluggish third quarter for an intense and emotional 111-87 victory Thursday.
MLB: Hill arrives at Red Sox camp following son's death
Red Sox pitcher Rich Hill starts spring training with a heavy heart.
Hill reported to Boston's camp on Thursday following the death of son Brooks, who was less than 2 months old when he died on Feb. 24.
Sports medicine pioneer Frank Jobe dies at 88
Dr. Frank Jobe, a pioneering orthopedic surgeon who was the first to perform an elbow procedure that became known as Tommy John surgery and saved the careers of countless major league pitchers, died Thursday. He was 88.
AP Source: 10-second rule withdrawn by committee
Round one of the pace-of-play debate goes to the proponents of fast football.
The NCAA football rules committee tabled a proposal Wednesday that would have penalized offenses for snapping the ball before 10 seconds had run off the 40-second play clock, The Associated Press has learned.
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