Blazers Lose To Mavericks In Their First Health And Safety Protocol Game

After avoiding COVID-19 infections through the first two months of the 2021-22 season, the pandemic finally caught up to the Trail Blazers in Monday night’s game versus the Mavericks.

It did not go well

Down eight players and two coaches due to health and safety protocols, the Trail Blazers were throughout bested 135-117 by the Mavericks, a team also dealing with a bevy of COVID-19 related absences, in front of a crowd of 18,430 Monday night at Moda Center.

“Not the result that we would have liked,” said acting head coach Scott Brooks. “I thought our guys competed. I thought we got a little down on ourselves when we weren’t making any threes in that first half. (Dallas) is a big team, very big team, had a lot of size advantage. I thought we had a couple of opportunities to put a body on a body and they got some confidence scoring down low in the paint. But I thought our guys competed, just didn’t make enough shots and didn’t get enough stops.”

The Trail Blazers are now 13-20 overall and 11-8 at home this season. Portland, now sitting at 11th in the Western Conference standings, has lost two-in-a-row and nine of their last 11.

The Trail Blazers, playing without the likes of Jusuf Nurkic, Robert Covington and Ben McLemore, seemed up to the challenge in the early going Monday night versus a Mavericks roster missing Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Maxi Kleber. While the Mavericks, who have been playing with replacement G-League players for the last week, looked like the better team, the Trail Blazers, having not played in six days, overcame a slow start to go into the second quarter trailing 34-29.

And after Damian Lillard and Nassir Little combined to score seven-straight to tie the game at 41-41 with 8:16 to play in the second quarter, it seemed like, if nothing else, a competitive game was in the making.

Instead, Dallas responded with a 17-1 run to take a 58-44 advantage with 4:41 to play in the first half. Portland would never really recover, with Dallas pushing their lead to as many as 26 in the third quarter and 29 in the fourth before a combination of Portland’s bench and replacement players got the final deficit down to 15.

“We know what we’re going through and we know it’s not going to be easy,” said Brooks. “We’ve just got to keep fighting. Chauncey has done a great job of instilling there’s no excuses around here. That’s part of developing, that’s part of growing up in this league. It’s easy to put your head down -- we didn’t have this guy, we didn’t have this guys to match up with their size advantage -- but we didn’t.”

Lillard led the Trail Blazers with 26 points, five assists, two rebounds and a block in 36 minutes. Norman Powell added 15 points, two rebounds and two assists in 30 minutes.

Little put up 20 points on 50 percent shooting while also grabbing 10 rebounds for the double-double. Little also blocked three shots and logged two steals and two assists. Anfernee Simons added 11 points off the bench.

Kristaps Porzingis led all scorers with 34 points on 12-of-21 shooting to go with nine rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks in 32 minutes.

The Trail Blazers now have a day to try to get their new players up to speed before hosting the Utah Jazz Wednesday night at Moda Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.