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Trail Blazers’ Rally Falls Short in Loss to Mavericks

Portland dropped their third straight game after falling behind by 15 points at halftime in a 111-102 defeat.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers’ struggles followed them to Dallas on Tuesday night, as they dropped their third straight game, a 111-102 defeat at the hands of the Mavericks. Portland has now lost six of their last seven after starting the season 12-5. Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 33 points, eight rebounds and eight assists while the Mavs were led by star rookie Luka Doncic, who scored 21 and chipped in nine boards and three dimes.

The Blazers once again dug themselves a big hole early, trailing by 14 at the end of the first quarter despite a hot first couple minutes. Dallas maintained their lead through the second, taking a 60-45 lead into the break. Portland made several spirited rallies in the second half, but ultimately couldn’t get the lead any lower than six, and the Mavericks were able to hold on for the victory.

Turning Points

After Portland came out of the gate strong, the Mavs went on a 17-3 run to close out the first quarter, setting the tone for the game. From there, any time the Blazers mounted any sort of significant run, Dallas was right there to quell the uprising before it got out of hand, a hallmark of a team in control.

In the third quarter, thanks to improved defense and the heroics of Damian Lillard (15 in the frame) Portland got the lead down to nine. A pair of clutch threes from Dwight Powell ballooned the Dallas lead once again. The Mavericks went up by 19 early in the fourth quarter.

The Blazers again answered back late in the fourth, trimming the deficit to six before Doncic iced the away with a soul-crushing step-back triple, followed by a touchdown pass to Dennis Smith Jr., who finished on the other end with an exclamation point dunk.

Offensive Woes

While Portland’s defense was once again suspect, particularly in the first half, the offense truly let them down tonight. They forced far too many contested jumpers throughout the night, thanks to a frustrating lack of ball movement. Multiple possessions featured a single pass or fewer. Nobody got in rhythm outside of whomever was handling the ball.

The Blazers also struggled taking care of the ball, a recurring theme this season. They turned the ball over 19 times, which the Mavericks converted into 22 points. The turnovers especially made for tough sledding in the comeback effort.

Cast of Characters

The Mavs profited from an excellent group effort in this game. All five of their starters scored in double figures, and all five of their second-unit players scored at least five points. While Doncic led the way, former Blazers Wesley Matthews knocked down a trio of clutch threes and finished with 17 points. DeAndre Jordan had 12 points and 17 huge rebounds, while Smith scored 12 and distributed nine assists.

With such well-balanced production offensively for Dallas, the Blazers couldn’t zero in on any one particular player, keeping the defense honest. As a result, everyone in the Mavs’ rotation was able to develop a rhythm on offense, something the Blazers didn’t see.

Key Players

Lillard’s 33 points came on 10-23 shooting, including 2-8 from beyond the arc.

CJ McCollum scored 18, on 7-19 shooting and just 2-7 from distance.

Al-Farouq Aminu had a double-double with 12 points and 13 boards, and was tasked with guarding Doncic defensively.

Jusuf Nurkic had a near double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds, as well as two blocks and one shot to the face.

Moe Harkless finished with just five points in 23 minutes, after scoring eight against the Spurs on Sunday.

Outside of Evan Turner’s 13/5/4 statline and six points from Nik Stauskus, nobody else was able to get much going off the bench.

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The Trail Blazers return home from their brief trip to host the Phoenix Suns on Thursday.