On the heels of an impressive road trip, the Portland Trail Blazers suffered their second home loss in as many nights on Wednesday, this time against the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs put 41 on the board in the first quarter, and shook off a mid-game lull to finish off the home team by a final score of 132-112. Kristaps Porzingis (22 points) and Jalen Brunson (20 points, 11 assists) led a balanced charge for Dallas, who also got a triple double from Luka Doncic, despite an quiet scoring night from the young superstar.
Portland was led by the backcourt duo of Anfernee Simons (23 points, seven assists) and CJ McCollum (20 points, six assists). They also got an efficient performance from Jusuf Nurkic, who scored 18 points on 7-11 shooting. However, they just didn’t have the firepower (or manpower) to keep up with the red-hot Mavs down the stretch.
For a quarter-by-quarter breakdown, see our Instant Recap. Here were the key storylines from Wednesday night’s action.
The Mavs jumped out to a quick 18 point lead behind the terrific two-man game of Doncic and Porzingis. They ended up shooting 44% from distance as a team on the night, but did most of their damage in the paint in the early going. The Blazers were undersized, reverting back to their three-guard lineup, with 6’3” Norman Powell serving as the small forward and 6’6” Tony Snell at power forward due to injury. The 7’3” Porzingis, playing alongside the 6’10” Maxi Kleber and 6’7” Dorian Finney-Smith, took full advantage.
Doncic and Porzingis formed a lethal pick-and-roll attack, and Porzingis was particularly effective as a lob threat at the rim. The big man looked primed for a monster night, but 14 of his 22 points came in the first quarter alone, and he was limited to 27 minutes due to foul trouble. Still, the initial offensive assault gave Dallas the cushion to withstand a Blazer run in the second quarter.
Next Man Up
The Blazers closed the gap in the second, thanks in large part to the energy boost brought on by CJ Elleby and Trendon Watford in the second unit. Portland was without Nassir Little, Robert Covington, and Dennis Smith Jr. in the contest due to injury, in addition to the longer-term absences to Damian Lillard, Larry Nance Jr. and Cody Zeller. This opened the door for Elleby and Watford to serve as the primary role players, in addition to veteran Ben McLemore.
The youngsters answered the call, at least in the first half. Elleby especially provided an added jolt, having not played the previous night. He was active on both ends of the floor, and turned in a well-rounded stat line of seven points, five rebounds and five assists, along with an impressive block on Brunson late in the second quarter.
Watford, who has shown great improvement since being pressed into Portland’s regular rotation, had some solid moments as well. He finished with eight points and five rebounds while showcasing his driving ability on several occasions.
Brunson Closes the Door
Trailing by nine at the half, the Blazers again made a run in the third quarter, closing the deficit to four points at the five-minute mark. It was all Mavs from their, however, as Doncic took advantage of considerable defensive pressure on him to find open teammates. Reggie Bullock was a major beneficiary, scoring 15 points of the bench on 4-7 shooting from beyond the arc.
Dallas closed the third quarter on an 18-5 run, and Brunson took the baton early in the fourth to put the game on ice. The fourth-year man out of Villanova scored 11 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, while also doing an excellent job of finding his teammates as part of an 11 assist night. Portland scored 31 in the final frame, but gave up 34 on the other end, with Brunson leading the charge.
The Blazers head to Texas to kick-off a four-game road trip against the Houston Rockets on Friday night. The game is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. PT at the Toyota Center.