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Final: Mavericks Sink the Blazers, 96-91

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Dallas Mavericks strolled into Portland and dominated the Trail Blazers for most of the night. Meanwhile, Blazers rookie Will Barton thrilled the Rose Garden crowd in the fourth, but the team couldn't complete the 26-point comeback.

This picture accurately described most of the night.
This picture accurately described most of the night.
Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Blazers were led by a gigantic fourth quarter by Will Barton, finishing with 22 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 18 points, and Damian Lillard scored 15.

I have a template I use for most recaps, where I walk through the quarters and hit the highlights and lowlights. There's no point tonight. The first three quarters of the game were one big lowlight, and that's not even getting into poor Wesley Matthews. Trying to make something happen, Matthews drove to the hoop, but clearly turned his ankle. It hurt enough that he hopped into the air, gave the ball to the Mavs, and fell on his side in a heap. He was taken to the locker room and didn't return.

If you saw the last 7 games, you've seen most of tonight's game: A lethargic (tired? defeated?) Blazer team stumbled out of the gate, falling behind in the opening minutes. Soon the deficit was double-figures, and the Mavs pulled away. There were the usual "keystone cops" moments, leading to multiple Blazer possessions that ended with a long pass for an easy Dallas layup. The biggest highlight of the first half was when the Blazers made a small run to prevent Dallas from doubling up their score.

At this point, with all the booing they've been doing, I'm surprised they aren't booing.
by cavejunctionblazer

That would be like booing your kid for not winning a race because his leg's in a cast.
by MiledAnimal

For some reason, Aldridge played 34 of the first 36 minutes in this game, despite the team being down by 20+ for most of that stretch. He was finally removed for the fourth quarter. It's easier to ignore a bad loss when you're playing a bunch of rookies, but when your two best players have meaningful minutes, it's a tough game to watch.

Considering that Dirk Nowitzki played only 24 of the first 40 minutes, it was inevitable that the Blazers would eventually cut the lead down. But even Dallas couldn't see this coming. Will Barton helped the Blazer bench find their groove, and they started scoring and defending. Dallas Head Coach Rick Carlisle refused to bring his big guys back into the game, while the Will Barton Interactive Dunk Experience cut the lead to 8 with 5 minutes left.

That got Carlisle's attention, but he wouldn't bring Dirk back into the game. In response, Barton scored 3 more points, making the Dallas lead 5. The Mavs pushed the lead to 9 with 2 minutes left, but the Blazers didn't go away, as Barton's free throws cut the lead back to 3 with 40 seconds left. OJ Mayo missed a three-pointer, giving the Blazers a chance to tie with 12 seconds left. Lillard missed a layup, and Dallas held on.

Box score | Portland Trail Blazers tickets via TiqIQ

Stay tuned for more analysis from Blazer’s Edge later tonight. In the meantime, check out the upcoming Blazers schedule. -- Tim