On a chilly night in Portland, the Trail Blazers started equally cold against the surging Dallas Mavericks. The game seemed almost a carbon copy of the teams’ meeting on December 21 at the Moda Center. The Mavs got off to a great start, then held off a Blazers rally in the second half to preserve their fourth-straight victory, 108-104.
The win is the Mavericks’ ninth of their last twelve. The Trail Blazers, who came into the night having won four out of their last five, could not recover from a horrendous first quarter, despite a valiant comeback effort. Ten-day contract signee Yogi Ferrell led the Mavs with a career-high 32 points and CJ McCollum led the Trail Blazers with 28.
1. Hot Start
The Mavs got off to a blistering start, hitting their first seven shots and jumping out to a 17-4 lead just four minutes in. The Blazers were sloppy early, with Evan Turner committing a couple of turnovers due to Wesley Matthews’ lockdown defense. The Mavs were up 27-10 at the 3:31 mark and led by as many as 20 points in the quarter. Their lead was 35-22 by period’s end, marking their highest scoring first quarter of the season. They led by as many as 24 points in the second quarter, but the Blazers started to chip away, cutting the lead back down to 13 by halftime.
2. Yogi Goes Bananas
Ferrell, the undrafted rookie out of Indiana on the seventh day of a 10-day contract, had an out-of-body experience. In his fourth game with the team (appearing in 10 games earlier this season for Brooklyn), having already posted 19 points earlier this week against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Yogi went 8-11 from the field and 6-7 from 3-point land in the first half alone, scoring 22 points— more than Damian Lillard and McCollum combined.
The Blazers continuously went under screens defending him, and he burned them time and time again. At one point, after knocking down an open 3-pointer, Yogi threw up his arms and gave a Jordan-esque shrug, at a loss as to how the Blazers kept leaving him open. He cooled off in the second half, but scored 10 more points and hit a dagger three with 19.3 seconds remaining to put the Mavs up four down the stretch.
3. Balanced Scoring for Mavericks
While Ferrell stole the show, plenty of other Mavericks had impressive nights. Former Blazer Wesley Matthews scored 27, Seth Curry had 19, and Harrison Barnes contributed 13. Though the Mavs only got eight points out of their bench, four starters played at least 30 minutes, and Curry played 29. Three starters (Ferrell, Matthews, and Barnes) played 38 or more minutes. Only two bench players played more than 10 minutes (Dorian Finney-Smith with 33 and Salah Mejri with 18).
4. Big Second Half for Blazers
Give the Trail Blazers credit. After a largely embarrassing first half in which they got torched by a guy who was playing in the D-League last week, they made some key second half adjustments and were able to get back in the game. In addition to putting Evan Turner on Ferrell to start the second half, the offense shifted into Turner’s hands in the third quarter, where he scored 14 points.
After the 24-point deficit in first half, the Blazers went on a 35-15 run to cut the lead to four with 7:06 left in the fourth quarter.
5. Blazers Win Battle, Lose War
The Blazers actually out-rebounded the Mavs on the night, 44-36, and led the offensive rebounding battle 12-2. They also outscored the Dallas bench 26-8, led by Al-Farouq Aminu’s 14 points. However, they were not able to keep the Mavs from shooting 55 percent from 3-point land (the Mavs average 30 percent).