Well that was frustrating.
The Mavs offense finally came back down to earth, and the defense continues to be silly bad. Look. Bottom line here is that the Mavs aren't going to be able to compete in the West if the continue to take a quarter (or more) off every game. The Blazers torched the Mavs tonight because Portland was the more consistent team. Plain and simple.
Monta Ellis came out gunning in the first quarter. Shooting, driving, dishing. You know it, Monta was out there doing it. He finished the first quarter making 4 of 6 shots, for 8 points. But my favorite moment of Q1 was just over 3 minutes in when Dirk dribbled all the way up the court and just DRILLED a three-point shot.
Interestingly, the Mavs had some quality defensive effort early on as well, drawing several charges to go with some steals and a block or two. In fact, it really felt like the Mavs had all the momentum in the first, and yet somehow the Blazers were only down by 4 by the end of it. That maybe had something to do with Aldridge quietly scoring 10 points on 5-7 shooting.
Once the benches were both in, the Blazers kinda took over a bit. Frustratingly, Kaman kind of went off on the Mavs, not only abusing Brandan Wright in the post but also (shockingly) working to get rebounds and stops on the other end. CJ McCollum was also good, splashing in a couple of timely threes.
Fortunately, that's about when Dirk broke out of a slight slump. He hit a couple of vintage Dirk shots, Al-Farouq Aminu then hit a three and got some help from a Kaman goaltend, and the slugfest continued.
I continue to love what I'm seeing from Aminu. He was a real bright spot through the 2nd quarter, at one point miraculously getting the rebound off his own awkward driving shot for the putback.
Parsons, on the other hand, looked fairly lackadaisical through the first half. He was 1-7 with only 2 points and missed both threes that he took. He still hasn't seemed to learn to move off the ball, spending a lot of time just standing and waiting. I feel like he'll figure it out, and obviously he can score in bunches when he wants to, but I was fairly disappointed with his first half performance.
The second half ended with the same lead as the first, Mavs up by 4. Somehow, the Mavs held the Blazers to just 25% from threes in the half. Which is good, because the NBA's best offense only shot 39% in the first half. Thankfully, it got better.
I think we were all terrified of the fact that the Mavs were only up 4 at half, considering how third quarters have gone this season. And after a couple of minutes, it really felt like "welp, here we go again." The Blazers took the lead at the 9:15 mark, then Portland slowly stretched that lead to 10. As usual for this quarter, the Mavs simply could not hit a shot. It's really amazing how consistently bad the Mavs offense is in the third. And the Blazers quickly realized this and just started attacking.
It isn't just the offense that sputters in the third. It really feels like the Mavs' brains just seem to fall out of their heads. Poor effort, bad spacing, dumb mistakes, dumber shots. I really have no idea what is going on, but the Blazers made the Mavs pay dearly for it.
Fortunately, Chandler Parsons finally woke up with about 5 minutes left in the third. Despite starting out 1 for 9, Parsons poured in a quick 9 points, including a beautiful runner that drew a foul for the and-1. This combined with some timely zone defense really seemed like it might stop the bleeding, for about a half a minute. But then the 3rd quarter just kept happening. Mavs turned a 4-point lead into a 13-point deficit.
(At the end of the third, the Mavs were shooting 37% and 29% from three, in case you were wondering how depressed I was at that point in the game)
The third quarter promptly continued into the fourth quarter. The Mavs continued taking dumb shots, which they of course missed. And the Blazers kept hitting the wide open shots and easy put backs the Mavs defense left them, and the Mavs' first blowout loss of the season was on.
A few last thoughts
- Jameer Nelson doesn't seem to have figured out his role on this team yet. The Mavs mostly just need him to do what Jose did last season: knock down open threes and occasionally initiate the offense by getting the ball to open players in a position to score. Yet Jameer seems to want to emulate what Monta and Devin are doing, and as a result, he is taking too many bad shots when he should be racking up assists. It really feels like he just needs to stop trying so hard.
- Chandler Parsons has some real Jekyll and Hyde tendencies. He is just so inconsistent. He's either ice cold or red hot. It's been really confusing so far this season.
- Third quarters are the worst. I hate them. And I'm really frustrated with the Mavs for giving into this psychological mess. There's just no excuse for doing the same crappy thing game after game after game. Carlisle has to get the team over this thing ASAP.
This was the first really disheartening game of the season. If the Mavs don't get their third quarter woes figured out, I guarantee it won't be the last. Hopefully Rick Carlisle figures out how to fix this problem, and we can all stop talking about it in a month or so.