the Portland Trail Blazers He came to the Moda Center on Saturday night desperate for a win, facing Luka Doncic and Dallas Mavericks. Portland has gone on a five-game losing streak and is almost at zero confidence. Dallas has a 24-19 record, Doncic’s 37.5-goal average against the Blazers this year, and plenty of bravado.
It doesn’t matter what both teams had in the bag at the alarm. Portland saw it up there midway through the third period thanks to a solid inside-out offense, 36 points from Damian Lillard, and huge power-making defensive build-ups from linebackers Josh Hart and Gary Payton II.
With every player playing on the floor free and easy, Portland won, 136-119. Lillard shot 11-20 from the court, 10-10 from the foul line to get his points, moving him ahead of Glen Rice and tying him with Julius Irving for 74th on the NBA’s all-time leading scorers list. Anfernee Simons produced 21 points on 6-12 shooting, and went 6-6 from the same foul line off strong hooks in the fairway. Jusuf Nurkic hit 3 of 5 3-pointers, 9 of 15 shots overall, adding 22 points and 11 rebounds for Portland’s offense.
Doncic scored just 15 points on 7-19 shooting in the loss. He’s got 10 assists. Poor shooting and eager passing were by-products of the Portland Blitz against him.
The two teams combined shooting 92-170 from the field and 39-87 from the arc, an offensive spurt.
The first period started out tough for the Blazers. Miss Josh Hart behind the arc and travel violations on Hart and Jeremy Grant consisted of 3 of their first 4 possessions. The Mavs hit a pair of triples on the other end and took a quick 8-4 lead in the first three minutes. Then he made Yusuf Nurkic like Superman fly over the horizon, hit three to bring the Blazers right back, and suddenly there was life in the building.
In the process, the Blazers attempted to solve their Luka Doncic problem by charging him early, once he got anywhere near the top of the arc (or caught at the bottom). They held Doncic down a bit, but Anfernee Simons made two quick mistakes in the process. You could tell they wouldn’t be able to keep up with this tactic all night.
But Damian Lillard began moving points on the other end, without waiting for his team to get into trouble before providing a platform for victory. He scored 9-0 in Portland giving the Blazers spirit. Some of the Mavericks’ hits hit, but Dallas needed those shots to keep up instead of going forward. Portland led 15-13 at the halfway point of the quarter.
Dallas’ three-point shooting left them in the middle sections of the quarter. When they directed plays, they tended to be successful. Instead, they settled down. Portland scored those tries and grabbed the rebounds with ease, turning those balls into a surprisingly fast offense. Lillard continued pouring it. Hart finally made the break. The Blazers were exploding offense in style.
Long triples eventually began to fall for the Mavs, bringing them in touch, but there was no question who was scoring better. Drew Eubanks played active defense on the inside. The turnovers also helped mitigate the strength of the Mavericks’ barrage. Dallas eventually hit eight triples in the period – including 2 in the last 30 seconds from Davis Bertans and Frank Ntilikina respectively – but 11 points from Lillard answered it enough. So did the Blazers’ 8 fast break points. Portland led 31-30 after one.
Gary Payton II was fouled as the second period began, prompting steals to run chances. Simmons came back, cutting through a quarter of the break with a nice bunt. Dallas offered absolutely no threat on the glass, allowing Portland to bounce, spin and run right away. Portland took the threes provided by Dallas, but didn’t have them otherwise, and continued to attack the edge. Shedon Sharpe enjoyed the free attack, especially when he got close to the edge. With just over 4:00 gone in the second, the Blazers led by 10, 46-36.
Hart continued to take an active role in driving tempo in the midsections of the period, with Eubanks collecting defensive shortstops like they were shells on the beach. Despite Dallas scoring on tries other than Eubanks, the Blazers kept their lead at 6-8. They attack the rim first, then go jumpers off the pass instead of keeping the ball on the perimeter. This was true of Lillard, Simmons, Hart, and everyone else who led the assault on Portland.
When Lillard really started the transfer Those trips, things got worse for Dallas. Dam converted on a goal and one with 2:48 remaining, sending Mavericks center Dwight Powell to the bench with his fourth error and giving Portland a 62-49 lead. Incredibly, Lillard would hit two relatively uncontested shots in the quarter (and two free throws) giving him 24 at the half as the Blazers led 71-56 at the break.
When the Blazers started the third period with a Josh Hart chip shot, Lillard 3, and a Jusuf Nurkic pass to Jerami Grant, it seemed clear that the Mavericks wouldn’t be interested in defending well enough to come back. Their own shots fell: Reggie Pollock hit a third corner and Doncic laid the ball over Nurkic, but they only needed it to keep up the pace.
Hart continued to be a pivotal part of the attack, both in the setup and the finish, in the middle of the field and at the break. The Blazers seem to be making a concerted effort to get their Swiss Army knife small forward in situations where it matters.
Bullock continued his long-running hot streak of three as the period progressed. Doncic hit a shot. Taking advantage of his size, Spencer Dinwiddie snubbed Blazers defenders once he got hot. All together it was enough to cut Portland’s advantage to 11, 95-84, with 3:00 left in the period.
However, Mavs didn’t come close. Good movement of the ball up the field, mostly caused by Payton in Damian Lillard’s absence, gave the Blazers open fairways and even wider open threes. Within two minutes, the Blazers restored the lead to 18. They finished the period up 106-90.
The fourth quarter
The opening play in Portland’s fourth period was Jusef Nurkic’s three. Their next play was as follows:
- Another three-point effort was blocked by Jusuf Nurkic.
- Jabari-Walker got the offensive rebound, cut under the bucket, and tried to bring it back up, but put it in from under the backboard instead.
- Walker threw the ball again against three defenders, but it flew completely over the basket, with no hope of success.
- Nurkic had his way in there, took it off the air, and crammed it into the house.
Then Shedon Sharp hit an open three and Nurkic slammed another dunk on the break.
Are the Mavericks back? No they were not.
Doncic did his best, pouring in points and passing shots like he was trying to make an All-Star team or something, but the lead was too big, Dwight Powell’s foul total too high, and Portland’s energy too dominant for Dallas to make an impact. .
With 7:00 left, Lillard and Doncic caught a little junk on the sideline, after which Lillard drove hard and converted a short layup. That gave Dame his 36th point and Portland an indomitable 21-point lead. Tim Hardaway Jr. was taken to the locker room with an ankle injury, perfectly completing the Mavs’ horrible night. The benches emptied when Dallas gave up, Nurkic hit a few more shots for fun, and that was the ball game.
Stay tuned for the in-depth analysis of the game, coming soon!
The Blazers will be queued for another game against the Mavericks tomorrow night at 6:00 PM PT.