The Trail Blazers strolled to a 126-118 victory over the Mavericks on Wednesday. Fueled by a 33-point outing from Damian Lillard, coach Terry Stotts’ squad controlled the action for the majority of the contest. For the Mavericks, rookie phenom Luka Doncic recorded 24 points in the loss. Outside of some sloppy play in the second quarter, the Blazers took care of business against an opponent heading in the opposite direction in the standings.
Dame Shares the Wealth
Unsurprisingly, Portland’s offense leaned on pick-and-roll actions in the halfcourt. Early in the first quarter, Jusuf Nurkic and Lillard took advantage of the Mavericks’ lackadaisical defense. Dwight Powell was forced to step out on screens—leaving Nurkic free to head to the rim unimpeded.
Once Dallas’ defense was properly softened, Lillard went to work off the dribble. Both Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless connected on corner three-pointers after the defense collapsed on Lillard. The third quarter provided yet another favorable set of outcomes for Portland’s two-man game. Instead of driving, Lillard feasted on shots that immediately followed screens. Along with the victory, Dame’s stellar work earned him a rare break in the fourth quarter.
Lillard finished with 33 points and 12 assists in just 30 minutes of action (his lowest minutes total since the Blazers victory over the Suns earlier this month).
Jake Gets His Groove Back
It appeared that Jake Layman was careening towards another forgettable performance through the first half. After failing to record a point before heading to the locker room, Layman found his rhythm down the stretch. Regardless of the comfortable lead that the Blazers enjoyed, it was still encouraging to see Layman confidently shoot from beyond the arc.
Layman finished with 13 points, marking his second double-digit outing in his last 14 games. Hopefully Wednesday’s late-game surge will fuel a turnaround for the former Maryland standout.
Seth Curry and Enes Kanter both looked sharp off the bench. Kanter, who frequently draws extra attention in the post, delivered a handful of beautiful passes from the paint to the perimeter. Curry added to Kanter’s passes by working to get open and converting the outside looks once the ball arrived. Kanter finished with a solid double-double, while Curry delivered 20 points off the bench.
The Blazers victory was accompanied by losses for both the Rockets and Thunder on Wednesday. With the standings in the Western Conference extremely tight, nights like this are crucial for Portland’s hopes of securing home court advantage. For the Mavericks, they have now lost nine of their last 10 games. If the ping pong balls fall favorably, Dallas could end up keeping their pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Nurk’s Quiet Double-Double
Lillard’s extra rest deserves the spotlight, but Nurkic’s 22-minute outing also deserves attention. Before taking a seat, the big fella notched 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Gary Trent Jr. was on the receiving end of playing time in the first half. He happened to be on the court in the middle of the Blazers’ run at the end of the second quarter—earning him a positive +/- prior to his work in garbage time.
Zach Collins finished with three points and two rebounds in 12 minutes of work off the bench. The former Gonzaga standout failed to connect on both of his attempts from beyond the arc. Collins’ last successful three-pointer came in a 132-105 victory over the Jazz at the end of January.
The Blazers return to action on Saturday to host the Pistons.