Dame Does It Again, But It's Not Enough Versus Dallas
PORTLAND -- The starters for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game were announced Thursday night, and Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard was not one of the five Western Conference players selected, though he's almost sure to get in as a reserve via coaches vote.
In fact, after his last two performances, it's probably safe to say he's a lock.
The 6-3 point guard out of Weber State followed up a 62-point performance versus the Warriors Monday night with a 47-point outing Thursday night versus the Mavericks. But despite his best efforts and considerable assistance from his newest teammates, it wasn't enough to avoid a 133-125 loss to a white-hot shooting Dallas Mavericks team in front of a sellout crowd of 19,574 at the Moda Center.
"They’ve proven over the course of the season that they’re the best offense in the league, they cause a lot of problems," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "Doncic does a great job of orchestrating the offense, tonight they had six or seven guys make at least two threes, they came out hot shooting threes well, they scored in transition, they scored in the paint, they got to the free throw line in the second quarter, so they can hurt you in a lot of different ways."
The Trail Blazers are now 19-27 overall and 10-11 at home this season. With the win, the Mavericks take a 2-1 lead in the season series with one game left to play.
The Mavericks put on a three-point shooting clinic in the first quarter, going 10-of-16 from behind the line on the way to scoring 45 points, the most Portland has given up in a quarter this season. With a 15-point lead and just about everything they threw in the general direction of the rim finding the mark, it seemed as though the competitive portion of Thursday's game might have already come and gone.
But with back-to-back three-pointers from Trevor Ariza, who started Thursday night in his first game as a Trail Blazer after being acquired via trade from Sacramento on Tuesday, Portland finished the quarter on a 12-5 run to cut Dallas' advantage to eight by the start of the second quarter.
“I thought (Ariza) was terrific," said Stotts. "Obviously in the offense, he can make shots, I thought he gave great effort with Porzingis, he had a tough assignment, but I thought he is a welcomed addition. I think it’s pretty obvious he knows how to play and he’s going to help us.”
The Blazers tightened up their three-point defense in the second, holding the Mavericks to just 3-of-13 shooting from behind the line. But Portland turned the ball over five times for nine Dallas points and took 10 fewer free throws, resulting in the Mavericks taking a 78-63 lead into the intermission.
Dallas took their largest lead of the night at 93-70 with 7:39 to play in the third quarter, and once again, it was fair to assume that an advantage of that size would stunt any attempt by Portland to make a game of it.
But it's never safe to assume anything when Damian Lillard is on the court.
Lillard, who started the game by making a three-pointer from nearly half court, made three consecutive three-pointers before finishing with 11 points in a 17-0 Trail Blazers run. Carmelo Anthony capped the rally with a 23-foot three-pointer to cut Dallas' lead to 93-85 with 4:23 to play in the third.
“We get down 25 in the third quarter and (Lillard) almost single handedly gets us back in the game," said Stotts. "He’s done that before. I think when he does things like that, everybody believes that somethings possible, and we came up short, but he kept putting us in position to think that we had a chance to win the game, and that’s what big players do."
Though that would be as close as Portland would come until the final whistle. Dallas responded with a 10-2 run and would eventually go into the fourth leading 103-90. The Mavericks held a double digit lead for the almost the entirety of the fourth quarter before Gary Trent Jr. made a three-pointer in garbage time to get the final deficit to eight.
“I think our urgency was better in the second half, but in the first half, we just allowed them to play too comfortable," said Lillard. "Seventy-eight points in the first half is allowing a team to build up too much confidence and rhythm, especially with the level that that offense can play at, it’s putting yourself in a tough position. I thought we competed but the start that we allowed them to get off to put us in a tough position and it was just an uphill battle going into the second half even though we did a much better job, that first half really hurt us."
Damian Lillard went 16-of-28 from the field, 8-of-15 from three and 7-of-7 from the line to finish with 47 points, eight assists and six rebounds in 41 minutes. With the performance, Lillard joins Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, James Harden, Michael Jordan, Elgin Baylor, Pete Maravich and Devin Booker as the only players to score 108+ points in back-to-back games.
Trevor Ariza went 7-of-11 from the field and 4-of-6 from three to finish with 21 points in his Trail Blazers debut while also added seven rebounds, two assists and two steals in 35 minutes.
Carmelo Anthony had a double-double of 16 points, 11 rebounds. Hassan Whiteside did the same, but to the tune of 14 points and 10 rebounds in 33 minutes.
Gary Trent Jr. came off the bench to score 20 points.
Dallas had seven players finish in doubler figures led by Luka Doncic, who finished with 27 points, nine assists and six rebounds in 34 minutes. Seth Curry and Jalen Brunson each finished with 17 and Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dorian Finney-Smith each had 11.
• The Trail Blazers shot 21-of-39 (53.8%) from the three-point line while the Mavericks were 22-of-47 (46.8%). Portland’s 21 three-pointers tied the franchise record (Jan. 2,2014 vs. Cha. and Dec. 14, 2013 at Phi.).
• The 43 three-pointers made by Portland and Dallas tied the NBA record for three-pointers in a game (Jan. 16, 2019, NOP at GSW).
• Portland had 17 second chance points on 11 offensive rebounds while the Mavericks recorded 14 second chance points on 12 offensive boards.
• Both teams shot above 50% from the field; Dallas was 48-of-93 (51.6%) while Portland shot 46-of-91 (50.5%).
• Dallas attempted 24 free throws (made 15, 62.5%) while the Trail Blazers shot 15 free throws (made 12, 80.0%).• Portland outrebounded Dallas, 43-41.
"I felt pretty normal once I got on the court. I was a little confused about what we were doing, but once Coach (Terry) Stotts talked to me he told me go out and play, my teammates told me go out and play, so that’s what I was trying to do." -- Trevor Ariza
The Trail Blazers have two days off again before hosting the Indiana Pacers in the third game of a four-game homestead. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.