In a Nutshell
This game was pretty much what you'd expect up until the last few minutes. The Blazers were the cigarette, the Rose Garden floor the ashtray. Dallas snuffed them out and then ground them underfoot to make sure they were out. Sadly they didn't pass the Smoky Bear test as Portland's residual heat flamed up in the last few minutes, turning the game from a blowout into a small chance for a miracle. Dallas' defense and Portland's offensive shortcomings combined to make sure that didn't happen.
Dirk Nowitzki destroyed the Blazers in the first period with surgical shooting. Dallas led 30-16 after one and any time they got threatened during the game they just came back to Dirk. That 14-point deficit happened before the really bad Portland play started too. The early part of the second period was almost comical. No rebounding and no transition defense on Portland's part turned this game ugly. The Mavericks went away from Dirk as the period closed, though, plus they relaxed on defense. Portland went on a run but the Mavs came right back. Dallas led 56-41 at the break.
The third quarter was full of misery for the Blazers. The Mavericks were shooting like they were undefended, which they may well have been. Portland shot like the ball was square. Dallas gained 5 points in the period, 25-20, and led 81-61 after three. The Mavericks got too loose too early, though, forgetting where their shots came from, looping stupid passes which the Blazers intercepted and ran back, and loafing on defense. The Blazers do a lot of things wrong out there nowadays but they still want to win. Portland made like butter and got on a roll and the stalled Mavericks couldn't get back into gear. When Nowitzki was called for an offensive foul with 1:17 left and the Blazers had the ball down 4 they had a chance. But two turnovers courtesy of a confused offense sealed the deal. A meaningless buzzer-beating three by Wesley Matthews made the score look really good. Dallas escaped with the victory, 97-94.
I can handle a lot of things, but the one thing that drives me up the wall every time is seeing an opponent smile and laugh in the middle of a game. The Mavericks were doing that tonight in the second half. That shouldn't happen. They should at least be concerned. I was really hoping the Blazers would stick a loss on them in the end for just that reason. You know, the "he who laughs last" thing. In any case, I'm hoping that in a couple years nobody will crack as much as a small smirk while playing Portland.
Here are your stats: Mavericks vs Trail Blazers boxscore It's nearly impossible to draw definite conclusions from production at this point in the season, at least to the positive. It's kind of like summer league in that way. If a guy is still shooting awfully or playing no defense that probably tells you something, but a guy could score 20 and it doesn't necessarily transfer to a meaningful game. I'll just give some random general impressions.
- Jamal Crawford's ball hoggery has reached epic proportions. A couple times down the stretch it felt like the right pass could have made a difference but Jamal had the ball. You know what that means. No matter what the score, no matter what time it is, money's gotta shoot.
- If there's an uglier shooting guard on the drive than Wesley Matthews I have yet to see him. And that's in my lifetime. I guess guys like Steve Kerr would count, but they never drove.
- J.J. Hickson knows how to rebound. His nose for the hoop has shone through unabated too. He does not belong defending Dirk Nowitzki though.
- Good to see Nicolas Batum score 20. These games should feature him. He could be even more assertive and I'd be fine with it. Batum took 12 shots, Crawford 17. If anything Batum should be le cochon de ballon.
- How come whatever Hasheem Thabeet does my mental response is, "Ouch"?
- Jonny Flynn 5 assists in 13 minutes. Guess he wants to be a point guard after all.
- Forget the threes, Luke Babbitt hit a shot going left at top of the key tonight off the dribble that made me sit up straight on the couch. It's the first moment where I've thought he could actually make something of himself even with the issues on the other end of the court.
Fun With Numbers
- Blazers down 20 to start the fourth and close it to 3. The only thing more perfect would have been seeing Brandon Roy take the court for the final 90 seconds.
- Blazers 23 free throws to Dallas 10. Part of that was the refs letting the blown-out team save face but this is still one of the few areas where this team still excels.
- Blazers allow 48% shooting, and that's with Dallas cooling down late. This team can't defend anyone.
- Blazers shoot only 6-25 from the arc, 24%. They've been depending on those threes for wins lately. Had they shot 32% they might have pulled it off.
- Dallas 16 offensive rebounds. Bad. 51 rebounds overall too.
- Dallas 20 turnovers and they still won. They lost concentration big time. Maybe too much laughing.
- Blazers 16 fast break points and 52 points in the paint...way to attack when the other guy isn't looking! If they could manage those numbers every game they'd be in the playoffs.
One down, six more to go. At this point I'm not optimistic we'll see many more wins. I wouldn't be shocked to see no more wins except my heart tells me they'll fight enough to snag the last home game of the season at least.
Mavs Moneyball will talk about dodging an incomprehensible loss.