In a Nutshell
In a game uglier than Abe Vigoda in a tutu the Mavericks get a couple key offensive rebounds and hit a couple more crazy shots than do the Blazers, escaping with a win. Portland's shooting lets them down across the board and the bench remains sketchy.
The Blazers hopped out to a 10-4 lead in this game, combining threes and paint points for a devastating attack. Sadly they couldn't keep on truckin' as Dallas pulled a switcheroo, scoring in the paint themselves for the remainder of the quarter off of drives and offensive rebounds. This is atypical of Dallas but, as was shown throughout the game, the Mavs are a different team without Dirk Nowitzki and Caron Butler. Absent easy and reliable jumpers the Mavs had to manufacture their points...an endeavor best described as a mixed success. Sadly the Blazers reversed polarity about the same time Dallas did, drifting farther outside and working deeper against the clock. Dallas crawled back even at 24 by the end of the period, the highest-scoring quarter for each team in the whole darn game.
Throw most of the above together with Portland's second unit offense and the game tanked in the second. Portland took 6 minutes to score their next 5 points. Dallas looked comparatively fine, scoring 9 in the same interval. Portland played either the returning Joel Przybilla or Marcus Camby himself with that second unit, contributing to Dallas' scoring woes. Portland's looked mostly self-inflicted. The only serious Blazer points in the period came off of Dallas defensive breakdowns. Portland scored on a couple pretty layups when the Mavs went brain-dead. Otherwise it was uphill all the way. It was a 19-16 quarter for Dallas, who led by 3 going into the break.
Whatever air the second-quarter shooters breathed, they must have exhaled plenty in the halftime locker room because both teams came out in serious offensive distress in the third. Literally the only points either team scored in the first half of the third period came from chippies or free throws. If it wasn't free, they couldn't hit it. Blazer Broadcasting's duo of Mikes charitably called it a "defensive game" but you could hear their heads shake as they said it. Business picked up in the second six as each team decided to limit the players taking shots (likely to minimize the damage, and possibly blame). DeShawn Stevenson picked it up for the Mavericks, LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Miller and Nicolas Batum for the Blazers. Two points from Jason Terry proved the only exception. The Mavs still led 62-60 exiting the stanza.
Aldridge exploded early in the fourth, clawing the Blazers back from the (in this game, nearly insurmountable) 3-point deficit. Patty Mills added a rare Portland three and a layup and all of a sudden the Blazers were up five with 5 and change left. Alas, Portland could not hold on to their fortune as Dallas kept missing but kept rebounding the ball until something fell. Tyson Chandler played one of the more manly stretches he's shown against the Blazers, making the comeback possible. Dallas also had a couple scrambling jumpers. Of their final four shots made, not one came from closer than 20 feet. The Blazers were also outside...a distinctly unfriendly area for them tonight. Portland's offense wasn't helped by Nicolas Batum missing much of the fourth with a sprained ankle. Rudy Fernandez wasn't an acceptable substitute. Patty Mills was next in line but didn't have the size or chops to replace Batum on defense. Finally Batum himself came back but he couldn't make the difference. The Blazers limped to the finish line on a wild, banked Wesley Matthews three-pointer and 1 made free throw out of 2 for Aldridge in a last-minute trip. Dallas' jumpers proved enough and they walked with the three-point win, 84-81, in a game the Blazers will regret but probably wouldn't repeat even if you allowed them to.
God, I hope there weren't any in this game. Portland's flaws came out plenty strong tonight. Outside of some nice moments from Mills the bench was awful. Portland also wants to rely on a three-point shot it seems congenitally unable to hit. The Blazers bricked open three after open three tonight, ending up 4-16. The Blazers also paid plenty of attention to the wrong Jason defensively (Kidd) while letting the right one (Terry) light them up in the second half. Part of that was continuity, part was just bad choices.
LaMarcus Aldridge led all scorers in the game with 28 on 11-23 shooting. He had 10 rebounds. His scoring came in groupings though, as Dallas keyed into him and pretty much shut down the Blazers when they were successful. Portland ended up with one drought too many.
Nicolas Batum was OK with 13 and 7 plus 2 assists and 2 steals. He went 1-6 from distance, though.
Marcus Camby had 20 rebounds (you read that right) but ended up having to play 39 minutes tonight. Had the Blazers built any kind of cushion with which to grant him some rest he may not have faded down the stretch, Tyson Chandler may not have gotten those critical offensive rebounds, and this game might have been different.
Andre Miller looked as confused as anyone regarding getting the swamp-sucking offense on track. He might as well been dribbling in mud for all the moves he was able to make. None of his teammates could sink a shot, severely limiting his passing effectiveness. He ended up with 9 points and 3 assists.
Lately it's seemed that Wes Money is either on or off. Guess which it was tonight? His claim to fame was hitting 2-4 three-point shots. That made him Larry Bird compared to his teammates. It also accounted for 6 of his 10 points on the night.
Patty Mills was the best player off the bench, shooting 4-7 for 9 points and 4 assists in 21 minutes.
Rudy Fernandez was the worst player off the bench, seemingly retreating after missing a coupe make-able threes, ending up 1-4 for 2 points in 17 minutes.
Dante Cunningham just existed in his 10 minutes, grabbing 1 rebound and committing 2 fouls. Some night the stat line isn't indicative of his contributions. Tonight it was.
Joel Przybilla got 3 minutes of play in his latest comeback. He looks a little tentative. With 39 minutes for Camby the Blazers could probably use some more Joel tomorrow in Houston.
Stats of the Night
- 81 points. Yeesh.
- Blazers 41.8% from the field, which looks like solid gold compared to 25% from the arc and 64.7% (11-17) from the foul line. The ball looked square tonight.
- Portland 2 fast break points. Dallas 12. Anything resembling parity and this game is a cakewalk for Portland.
- Dallas 12 offensive rebounds, which is half again their norm.
Odd Notes and Links
Shawn Marion scored 8 points in this game, proving once again that Dallas is the elephant's graveyard for NBA small forwards. They make guards look good though. Terry and Stevenson each had 18.
Mavs Moneyball is the place to go for more recappage.