The Portland Trail Blazers tried to cross a volcano in flip-flops tonight, taking on Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks in a game that meant something to Dallas, but not so much for Portland. The Blazers got down by 20 early, then watched the gap get wider and wider until it reached astronomical proportions. Portland got outplayed in every aspect of the game. Doncic ended up scoring 39. The Blazers put only 3 players into double figures. Those players combined for 42 between them. That pretty much sums up the evening, as the Blazers lost 128-78.
The Blazers narrowly avoided becoming the opponent in the largest victory in Mavericks history by a single point. Portland lost by 50. Dallas’ record is 53.
The Blazers and Mavs spent the opening possessions of the game scoring at a soccer-like pace. The Blazers were right on target for, maybe, 32 points in the game after the first few minutes. The Mavericks weren’t much better, but Doncic looked like he was just playing around, hitting shots when he cared to, otherwise trying to make fancy passes. He was a hidden coil, waiting to spring if necessary.
It wasn’t really necessary for Dallas’ superstar to uncork. The Blazers gave the Mavericks all the assists they needed in the form of turnovers. Dallas feasted on run-outs for nearly-unopposed buckets while the Blazers passed the ball ten times just to force a shot against a contesting defense.
I wish I could report that the flow got better as the quarter progressed, but...nope. Those transition buckets got the Mavericks rolling and comfortable. After that they shot threes against Portland’s defense, free and easy. The Blazers scored 13 in the period, Dallas 36. Getting doubled-up in the first quarter is one thing. Getting tripled-up is kind of...wow.
The Blazers pounded the ball inside in the second with Reggie Perry and Drew Eubanks. That at least got their scoring started. The Mavericks didn’t particularly seem to mind. Their lead hovered around 20, which was just fine. Luka Doncic getting a technical between quarters (complaining about a non-call at the first-period buzzer) was the biggest excitement. That tech will keep him out of Dallas’ season finale, as he’s exceeded the limit for allowable technicals before suspension.
The Mavericks were inattentive enough to let Portland leak out on a couple of breaks. Were it not for that, the Blazers would have scored approximately zero points in the middle ranges of the quarter. In the halfcourt offense, they succumbed to the bad practice they’d avoided for much of the season: people looking for their own shots regardless of quality. On the other hand, the proliferation of turnovers on attempted passes indicated that maybe iso ball was the better solution.
No matter how much they scored—which wasn’t much—Portland’s interior defense gave it all back and then some. Dwight Powell made hash out of them on the regular. Dallas also got plenty of offensive rebounds. By the late minutes of the period, it was full-on Embarrassment Mode. Dallas led 68-44 at the half
Portland’s offense didn’t get any better in the third quarter, but Dallas’ sure did. Doncic hit a trio of threes in the first half of the period. (He’d hit four more in the latter half.) Dallas hit 7 of their first 10 three-point attempts in the period. Portland’s defense looked about as spry as 76-year-old Vince McMahon taking a stunner from Stone Cold Steve Austin at Wrestlemania 38.
Doncic would end up scoring 25 in the third. That’s the same amount Portland scored as a team. The Mavericks led 107-69 heading into the fourth.
Was Portland poised for a huge comeback? Well, they went scoreless in the first four minutes of the fourth. So...no? I guess not.
Stay tuned for analysis from the evening, coming up next!
The Blazers return home for their 82nd. and final. game of the season on Sunday at 6:30 PM vs. the Utah Jazz.