Dirk Nowitzki asserted himself against a challenger on Saturday night. When the Dallas Mavericks needed one more shot, they went elsewhere.

Guard Monta Ellis hit a 20-foot jumper at the buzzer to give the Mavericks a 108-106 over Portland at the Moda Center. The Blazers had tied the game on Damon Lillard’s third 3-pointer of the final quarter, with 1.9 seconds remaining.

Someday, Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge could be the best power forward in the NBA. He was not even the best power forward in this game.

Nowitzki outplayed Aldridge, of Seagoville, at the both ends floor as the Mavericks interrupted the Trail Blazers’ early season surge. Portland began play with the best record (17-3) in the NBA West.

Nowitzki had a 28-19 scoring advantage on Aldridge, who fell nearly five points below his season average. Nowitzki had seven assists and no turnovers, far better than Aldridge’s two assists and three turnovers.

And Nowitzki kept his team from faltering in the fourth quarter. After Portland came back from a nine-point deficit to tie the game at 94 with 3:58 remaining, Nowitzki made four of his next five shots.
The win proved a point made beforehand by coach Rick Carlisle. Hold Portland to fewer than 10 three-pointers, and it will have trouble winning.

On Friday, Portland made a club-record 17 triples in 23 tries during a rout of Utah. The Mavericks held the Blazers to 9-of-30 three-pointers.

In the last three games, the Mavericks have limited opponents to a .258 percentage on 3-pointers. The Mavericks are on the verge of cracking the league’s top 10 for defending the shots from distance.