by mavsluvr at Today, 04:00 AM
Mavs, Blazers Wow in Shootout
Dallas Locks In Seventh Seed
It was an old-fashioned shoot-‘em-up in Orlando, and Dallas continued to sharpen their offensive game.
Seth was out again, with his right leg still sore. I continue to wonder about this. Hope he heals up. Trey Burke took his place in the starting lineup.
The Mavericks started out brightly, pulling out to a 7-8 point lead and more or less maintaining it for nine minutes. Unfortunately, the Blazers went on a 15-0 run in the last three minutes, resulting in the Mavs’ being on the wrong side of a 31-38 scoreline after one. Dallas was running their offense through KP as long as he was in, to great effect. He showed great versatility, scoring from downtown, on oops, posting up, you name it. He also exhibited great synergy with Luka and Burke on the pick and roll.
The second quarter featured pretty insipid shooting from both teams. The Mavs were 3-12 from deep, with the Blazers even worse at 2-12. Dame and Melo pounded Dallas from all quarters. Our boys had only 27 points in the period. Fortunately, Portland scored only 28. Our team went away from KP for some reason. He took only one shot in the frame, and missed it. The Blazers hammered the Mavericks inside, accumulating 38 points in the paint, to Dallas’ 20. Mavs 58, Portland 66 at halftime.
Dallas came out of the locker room looking more focused. They had some nice plays in the third period, including a Luka spin move on Dame, a nifty DFS drive and curl, and THJ posting up and drawing a foul. The team went back to KP, who had a 14-point quarter, to go with his 16-point frame in the first. The men from Texas came within three points of wiping out their deficit, going into the fourth trailing 95-98.
In the fourth, the Mavs rapidly caught up, gained a lead, and never trailed again until the last minute of the game. A crazy Lillard shot from downtown Orlando hit the rim, popped high up out of the TV frame and came down straight through the rim. Really? That tied the game, after a KP 3 had given the Mavericks an edge. KP fouled out on the next possession (offensive foul).
Whiteside had a cutting dunk from Lillard. Blazers up two. Whiteside fouled Luka on the next play, and Luka split a pair of free throws. Blazers up one. After Lillard missed a jump shot, Dallas had a possession that ended up in the hands of DFS in the corner. He hit the three, but it was called off due to an offensive foul call on Burke away from the play. Hardaway then intentionally fouled CJ, who hit both of his free throws. Blazers up 3 with 4 seconds left. The Mavs took a timeout, then ran a play for THJ, who missed the three. Game Over.
The Blazers crushed the Mavs on the possession game, getting up a horrendous 17 more shots than Dallas. The Mavericks were -18 on points from twos, +15 on points from threes, and even-steven on made free throws. Our team missed 6 free throws in the fourth quarter — twice the margin of the game. I’m biting my tongue.
The Blazers won the rebounding battle 48-37, and grabbed 12 offensive boards to the Mavs’ 5. Portland also had only 8 turnovers, whereas Dallas had 17, and gave up 18 points as a result. Some of these, I’m sorry to say, were just a result of sloppy play. The guys from the West Coast ended the day with a 15-point advantage in points in the paint.
As one might suspect from the score, neither of these teams was playing a whole lot of defense. The Mavs had no answer for Damian Lillard, and indeed, it seemed to me that they were not going all out to even try. They trapped him a couple of times, and he passed out to Melo, who was also lights out. The Dallas defenders were not up to coping with Melo — he was too strong for Justin Jackson and DFS. Dame scored a career-high 61 points, and he and Anthony combined for 87. And they still barely won. Dang.
THJ (37 min) - Tim was scoring all over the place in this match, putting up 24 points — 6-11 FGAs, three threes, and 9-9 from the line. In the fourth quarter, he was the team’s high scorer with 9 points and hit all six of his free throws. He was at least attentive on defense, although he didn’t have the weight or strength to stop some of those big Blazers. Overall, I thought he contributed pretty much what he could be expected to. What more can we ask?
KP (36 min) Porzingis was the best Mav on the floor, imho. He had 36 points on 12-17 shooting, and hit seven triples out of nine tries. He wasn’t just chucking. He scored in a wide variety of ways, and had the size and strength to hold his own against the Blazer bigs. It was too bad that he fouled out near the end. He was playing SO WELL. It seems like he grows in confidence with every game, and I like seeing him improve.
Luka (35 min) - Doncic neared another triple-double, with a 25-8-10 line, only seeming quiet in comparison to Dame. He may have been a little on the loose side with the ball, turning it over six times. But watching all his dashing moves was entertainment enough for the night.
Burke (31 min) - Trey contributed 12 points on respectable shooting (4-9), but really sparkled as a playmaker, earning 9 assists and making numerous good finds. He had a shot over Dame, and another over Nurkic, and was part of several exciting highlight plays with KP. I felt a little bad for him, getting called for the foul that took away the Mavs’ chance to go ahead at the last minute. He looks to be a good addition.
DFS (30 min) - It was another fine night for Doe-Doe. He had 15 points on 6-8 shooting, including three treys. The development of a consistent offensive game by Finney-Smith could be huge for this team. He had some nice catch-and-shoots, but he wasn’t by any means just spotting up. He was cutting, driving, curling, making his defenders make some decisions. On the defensive side, I think he tends to get some assignments that probably aren’t quite realistic for him. He was not big enough or strong enough to defend Melo by himself, for example, and no one guards Dame one-on-one. Perhaps a better scheme could be devised, although this Blazer team has numerous shooters and scorers who can hurt you.
Maxi (27 min) - Maxi also made an offensive contribution, with 12 points on 4-9 shooting. HIs threes were timely. That was encouraging. But he is asked to guard fours and fives that could be seen as setups for failure, and one wishes there could be a defensive scheme that doesn’t leave one man overmatched on an island. It’s hard with these Blazers — you help on one and your own guy will make you pay.
Wright (23 min) - Delon missed all of his shots and one of his free throws, but had one point to put on the board, and had 5 dimes to put in the piggy bank, along with a steal. He made a few moves that seemed to me like they were the right ones, but somehow it would go wrong at the end — instead of shooting, he would pass, or he would hesitate a little too long and lose his chance. I wonder if it something psychological with him.
Justin Jackson got roasted trying to defend the stronger Melo. Boban had one shot, one rebound and a turnover in 7 minutes. The turnover was a bad one — a sloppy inbounds pass under his own basket, which the opponent grabbed and put in the bucket. Carlisle was not happy. MKG was subbed in for 7 min to defend Carmelo, and he had more success than some others at that task. He even earned an and-one at the basket, but missed the free throw.
Barea, Cleveland, and Reaves did not play - CD.
Blazers — Dame laid a career-high 61 points on the Mavs. He got to the basket any time he felt like it, hit nine threes, and was 18-18 from the line. The Mavericks appeared to offer little resistance. Carlisle pondered the issue after the game, remarking that doubling Lillard just resulted in someone else torching them. More about that later.
Melo is not the selfish volume-chucker we used to see. In these enlightened days, he’s an intelligent sharpshooter who can destroy you before you even know it’s happening. He had 26 points (10-17 shooting), and also counted 8 rebounds and 2 steals in his line.
Zach Collins bothered the Mavs, especially early, with 11 points and 8 boards. Gary Trent added 11 from the bench.
Rick had a bit of a resigned air at his post-game presser. He was a little disappointed in the first half, where he felt the offense was disjointed and stagnant. In the third quarter, the team started moving better, defending better, and were able to make a run, getting back in it. The fourth was a tennis game, back and forth with neither team doing better or worse than the other. He thought that Dame’s super-long three that popped up into the skies and fell straight back through the rim was the backbreaker for the Mavs. His boys gave themselves a chance till the end, and just came up a little short.
Coach thought KP was just phenomenal on both sides of the court. Aside from KP, the Mavericks just weren’t good defensively; He also felt his team was too inconsistent. He said they figured before the game that Dame would get around 15 threes (he actually hit 17), so he was not surprised by that. But he thought the Mavs absolutely could not be in the position of putting Dame on the line for 18 free throw attempts (of which he completed all 18). He thought allowing Lillard those free throws was the real difference in the game.
I was curious how the Mavs would approach this match, as Portland was playing for their survival, and the Mavericks had the chance to keep a mathematical chance of moving up a seed alive with a win. Dame opined after the game that his team wanted it more, and it did look like that for stretches.
My first comment is that you just can’t let someone go off on you for 61 points. Dame is a player who can do that sort of thing, but there has to be a way to get the ball out of his hands. If the other talented players beat you, then they do. It reminded me a lot of the Brandon Roy fourth quarter in the 2011 playoff series against Portland. Roy scored something like 23 points in the quarter, while Carlisle refused to double him, put a stronger defender on him, etc., and finally the Mavs, who had a 20+ point lead going into the fourth, lost. Carlisle admitted after the game that there were things they could have and should have done to stop Roy. I felt, in the same way, that they didn’t do the things they might have been able to do to rein Dame in, and it really got away from them.
Another thing I noticed was the problems the shallowness of the roster leaves us. Seth, a starting player, was out, and Burke, a rotation member of the bench, took Seth’s place. That left putrid second units like Doncic, Wright, Jackson, Maxi, and Bobi, who just weren’t able to accomplish much. Maybe in the playoffs Rick will tighten the rotation up, and the lack of depth won’t be such a problem.
The obvious issue staring us in the face is the Mavs’ woeful lack of defense. The Blazers were getting straight-line drives to the basket, open threes, easy shots all over the place. In fairness, the Mavericks were enjoying some of the same on the other end. Hopefully, the team can find some way in the summer to shore up their defense without subtracting from their offense. I thought I was watching summer league out there for a while.
Not to be overly negative, though. Although the Mavs looked a bit listless for a while, they grew into the game and went toe-to-toe with Portland’s hot young team. The refs may have played a part in the result, although there is no point going into that. Their offense looks to be rounding into shape.
Next. The team is locked into the 7th seed now. Their last regular-season game is against Phoenix on Thursday. The result will not affect the Mavericks’ standings, so we will see if they use the contest as a warm-up or choose to rest players. Hope to see you there!