Come Hell or high water, the 42-29 Portland Trail Blazers have found a way to win even with a rash of injuries that should have left this team for dead. In the hunt for a playoff spot and with Marcus Camby in tow, Portland seems to be coming on at just the right time. The Mavericks, at 47-24, are pushing toward another 50-win season but they are still struggling to integrate new pieces and find themselves defensively.
Do the Mavericks continue rolling into the playoffs or does Portland stop them dead in their tracks?
The Game as a Whole:
Just a few weeks ago sports pundits were all high on the Mavericks as they rode a 13 game win streak that had almost no end in sight, and now look at where they have ended up. In the last 5 games the Mavericks are a meager 3-2 with all of their losses coming against playoff-bound teams. This is a time when you would expect a team to be playing their best basketball, but the Mavericks are left still searching for intensity.
On the bright side, the Mavericks are tied for second place in the West. But with the Denver Nuggets only two games away, that could all change very quickly. Where did it all go so horribly wrong? The foul shooting was a big factor, as every call seemed to go the Blazers way as they actively attacked the rim. Dallas is a jump shooting team and that isn’t going to help you when you are trying to win a battle in the paint.
The defense was atrocious, as Dallas can simply not win a game when the score gets up into the triple digits and, honestly, they shouldn’t let the score get that high. Dallas has lost themselves defensively as they constantly were slow to rotate, lost their defensive assignments and didn’t bother a Blazer when they need to get a stop. Add an off night for Dirk to the defensive struggles and you have the perfect storm that culminates in a loss.
Let’s Look at the Quarters…
- 11:37, Got blocked? Not a problem for Kidd. Ball immediately ricochets back to Kidd who throws a lob to Dampier.
- 10:40, Mavericks score on their first three offensive possessions.
- 10:16, Aldridge puts up the first points for the Blazers but it took him almost the whole shot clock to do it. Mavs turn up the defensive pressure.
- Since Caron Butler has started to go a little cold as of late, does that mean we start playing Beaubois more at the shooting guard?
- 8:26, Andre Miller had to make the worst decision on a fast break. He only has Dampier to beat but instead he throws it over to Marcus Camby. The Blazer center misses both.
- 8:14, Uncontested layup by Butler.
- 7:33, After a fast-break score (plus the foul) for the Blazers, Haywood gets to come off the bench.
- 7:15, Haywood comes in and immediately turns the ball over. To make matters worse, Aldridge scores on him after the fact.
- 6:54, Blazers giving up a lot of fouls without the Mavericks even taking shots.
- 4:56, Dallas is letting the Blazers run the floor and get whatever shot they want. Portland is playing like they are the one seed in the West.
- Would Dallas have been better if they only picked up Camby? I am interested in what the team would be like with him.
- 3:28, Instant offense off the bench, Jason Terry drills a three. That gives him his first basket of the night.
- 2:05, Butler refused to give up on an offensive rebound. He gets the ball back after throwing it off of Marcus Camby.
- Everyone thinks Beaubois came into the game at the two-minute mark, not the case. The announcers led us astray.
- Mavericks can’t get their defense together in the first quarter and give up 32 points along with a score to end it.
- Mavericks give up a score to start the quarter off with a bang.
- 11:15, Jason Terry demonstrates his desire to win by diving for a lose ball. The ball still trickles out of bounds.
- 10:02, Marion moves really well without the basketball and puts Barea in a position to look good with the assist.
- 9:27, Jump hook for Haywood, guess he wants those starter minutes?
- 9:15, Back-to-back scores for Haywood who is currently 4 of 4 tonight.
- 7:25, Barea gets pushed into a little girl due to a "friendly" forearm from Webster.
- 7:05, I have never, in all my years of watching basketball, seen a ball sit on the flat part of rim without rolling off.
- 6:03, Haywood drops the ball to pick up his headband. Let me say that again, Haywood drops the BALL to pick up his headband.
- 5:25, Interesting that as soon as Haywood sits down, the Mavericks give up a layup as Dampier tries to contest.
- 4:56, Make that a layup and a dunk.
- 4:42, Marion and Jason Kidd both hit three’s. Don’t see Marion taking a three much anymore.
- 3:42, Kidd hits another three from the exact same spot on the floor.
- Dallas has been absolutely killing themselves by giving up turnovers coming out of timeouts tonight.
- 1:42, Nowitzki doesn’t get more open than the shot he just had at the elbow. He clanks it off the bake rim giving him a nice 3 for 8 on the night.
- :51.9, Marv Albert says "Dallas not a team that gets to the rim a whole lot". How I wish he wasn’t right on that one.
- Would it keep refs honest if all of their conversations were recorded and uploaded to the Internet after a game?
- Butler gets a tech for taunting? Nobody except the ref was looking at him and I don’t think he is stupid enough to taunt the ref.
- Haywood starts the quarter = Blazers don’t drive to the rim. I definitely like this formula.
- 10:18, Nowitzki can’t make an open shot to save his neck, but instead can hit a jumper fading to his left over Camby? You have got to be kidding me.
- 9:47, Butler throws down a dunk and hangs on the rim just a tiny bit. I know you saw it. Dallas ties the game.
- 7:54, After tying the game, Mavericks give up six straight points. Rick Carlisle calls a quick timeout to rally the troops.
- Timeout doesn’t seem to help; Dallas is now down 10 points.
- 6:08, Dirk looked completely out of position on that whole defensive sequence and it leads to a Camby bucket.
- 4:46, Nowitzki is at the line and hopefully seeing the ball go in the basket a few times will get him going.
- 3:42, Aldrige has come down from the stratosphere and hasn’t scored in the second half.
- 3:17, Butler gets the steal on what was looking like it would be a disastrous offensive trip for the Mavericks.
- 1:53, Mavericks have another stretch where they can’t hold onto the ball and it leads to a score.
- Dallas switches to the zone to try and disrupt Portland and it fails miserably.
- Caron Butler leading the way for Dallas with 20 points.
- Terry doesn’t even jump for the jump ball, seems like he did it in protest of the non-call during the floor scramble.
- 11:43, Kidd passes up a great look at a three (he would have been fouled) and the Mavs pick up a three second violation.
- Video of Charles Barkley holding the mic to his own face while someone else is talking: priceless.
- 11:20, Butler hits two free throws to bring the Mavericks to within 4.
- 10:23, Caron isn’t even looking to pass anymore, he is just going to get it done himself.
- 9:37, Marion knifes in for a score.
- 9:00, Haywood has the ball poked away from him more than anyone on the Mavericks. Like him for his defense, don’t like his ball control skills.
- 8:23, Why is Dallas in such a hurry to foul Lamarcus Aldridge? Just make him take a tough shot since he has fallen into a cold spell.
- Dampier has not come back into the game yet for the Mavericks. Haywood doesn’t have anything to complain about.
- 6:21, Dirk gets a strip but the Mavericks can’t convert on a Terry jump-stop. They have officially missed the boat to win the game.
- Mavericks cannot get a break tonight from the referees. Everything is currently going Portland’s way.
- Beaubois, no minutes tonight.
Some Choice Statistics:
- Blazers are 12-1 when scoring 30+ points in the 1st quarter.
- Nowitzki’s worst shooting night of the season happened against the New Jersey Nets on 3.10. He went 3/16 from the floor.
- Dallas has only one free throw in the whole first half.
As much as it would feel great to blame the coach, the onus falls on the players to execute when game time comes. Rick Carlisle was doing everything right with the subs tonight; the players just didn’t have it in them on this occasion.