On Friday night, the Portland Trail Blazers went head-to-head with the Dallas Mavericks, and the absence of the consistently high-scoring Luka Doncic provided a temporary relief for the Blazers. Despite Doncic’s absence, Dallas secured a convincing 139-103 victory, outperforming, outshooting, and outrunning the Blazers.
Kyrie Irving took charge for the Mavericks, contributing 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists, leading them to victory. On the Blazers’ side, Jerami Grant emerged as the top scorer with 18 points.
This defeat marks Portland’s fourth consecutive loss to Dallas this season, resulting in a season sweep by the Mavericks. The game was notable for its peculiar moments, including an unusual display of coaching frustration.
But before delving into the details of the game, consider making a positive impact by donating a ticket or two. Your contribution can allow children in need to witness the Blazers take on the Atlanta Hawks on March 13th. It’s a simple and rewarding way to help, bringing joy even when the team is facing challenges on the court.
The Blazers showed improvement in their performance tonight compared to Wednesday’s game, with Toumani Camara and Duop Reath sinking three-pointers alongside a pair of Scoot Henderson scoops. Despite their pick-heavy offense causing challenges for a weakened Dallas defense, Portland’s own defensive efforts didn’t fare much better, allowing repeated shots at the rim. While Dallas missed a couple, it seemed more a matter of luck than stout defense.
Although Portland managed to make their first three triples, they needed those points to keep pace with Dallas’ scoring. Despite hitting nearly all their shots, the Blazers found themselves trailing 17-15 with 7:15 remaining in the game.
The turning point came when Kyrie Irving shifted into high gear, scoring his 12th point of the period with an almost unstoppable pull-up from mid-range. In response, Portland called a timeout, engaging in a huddle that included group intercessory prayer.
While non-Kyrie-Irving Mavericks missed their next couple of shots, open but unsuccessful, the Blazers also struggled with heavily contested attempts. The scoreboard reflected a limited point exchange, but the effectiveness of defense was evident, favoring Dallas over Portland.
When half-court plays fell short, transition opportunities arose. The Blazers’ turnovers led to a couple of layups, enabling Dallas to extend their lead to 10 points. With 2:30 left, Derrick Jones, Jr. capitalized on an errant pass, stealing the ball for a breakaway dunk, maintaining Dallas’ advantage for the rest of the period.
At the end of the first quarter, Dallas held a 38-26 lead.
The second quarter began with Kyrie Irving hitting another three, but Toumani Camara and Anfernee Simons responded with three-pointers of their own, reducing the deficit to 7 points with 9:00 remaining. A possession and a half later, Duop Reath’s hook shot brought it down to 4, making it 41-37. The second unit, stepping in for the starters, achieved what the initial lineup couldn’t for Portland.
The following minutes saw both teams experiencing turnovers, either through blatant mistakes or offensive fouls. The slowed pace provided more opportunities for the Blazers to catch up. Despite Head Coach Chauncey Billups swiftly reintroducing starters, turnovers persisted, and scoring struggled to gain momentum.
Dallas quickly capitalized on the situation, especially with the open shots the Blazers were granting them. A lane shot and a three surpassed the combined scoring of both teams over the previous three minutes, re-establishing a double-digit lead for Dallas. A Seth Curry layup, following a missed attempt by Jerami Grant, set the score at 52-41 with 4:35 left.
Up to this point, Anfernee Simons had been relatively quiet, while Jerami Grant consistently contributed to the scoring. Grant took over towards the end of the second quarter, but his efforts were matched with physical challenges for every isolated attempt. Duop Reath, left open by the Mavericks, took numerous shots, contributing both positively and negatively. Grant led the Blazers with 18 points at halftime, thanks to his late-quarter surge, and Reath had a dozen points himself. Despite this, the Mavericks contained Portland’s other scorers effectively, maintaining a 63-53 lead heading into halftime.
Dallas made a strong push at the beginning of the third quarter, securing a couple of successful shots at the rim and a corner three that added significant momentum. Fortunately for Portland, Dallas faltered in the remainder of their three-point attempts, preventing them from building an even larger lead. Unfortunately, the Blazers struggled with their own three-point shots, putting themselves at a disadvantage. A 0-4 start from beyond the arc left the Blazers susceptible to a mini Dallas run, prompting an early timeout when they were down by 16 points, 69-53, with 9:43 remaining.
However, the timeout didn’t yield improvement, and when the deficit reached 20 points with 7:45 left, Coach Billups made a bold move by pulling the entire starting lineup, except for Anfernee Simons, who was shooting free throws at the time. Simons would exit at the next stoppage, signaling the coach’s frustration and desire for change.
This decision resulted in two consecutive easy buckets for Dallas, leading to another Blazers timeout. Unfortunately, Portland continued to struggle with turnovers and mishandled plays. By the 4:00 mark, Dallas had extended their lead to 34 points.
As the third quarter concluded, marked by a merciful buzzer, the Blazers had endured a challenging period, trailing 102-69. Remarkably, Portland had managed to catch up to the score the Mavericks had approximately 10 minutes earlier.
In a somewhat ironic twist, the Blazers theoretically could have erased their halftime deficit during the third period. However, given their offensive struggles, achieving this would have required an extraordinary feat: holding Dallas to an NBA record of zero points.
The beginning of the fourth quarter was marked by a lack of fluidity and precision. Surprisingly, this played in favor of the Blazers, allowing them to make a couple of shots and embark on a modest run. To put it in perspective, it brought them within 30 points.
An upside, if one can find any in a challenging game like this, was that the fourth period offered an opportunity for rookies and G League Blazers to gain some playing time. Rayan Rupert logged significant minutes, and Scoot Henderson showcased some promising moments. In the midst of a substantial setback, these small positives emerged from an overall challenging situation.
Stay tuned for extended analysis coming soon!