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6 takeaways as the Dallas Mavericks hold off the Portland Trailblazers, 120-112

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Four straight wins

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks outlasted the Portland Trailblazers at home Friday night, 120-112. Luka Doncic led Dallas with 35 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. Damian Lillard led the Blazers in defeat with 34 points and 10 assists.

Dallas opened the game spotting Portland a quick 12-2 lead, as the Mavericks don’t have much of an idea as to how to guard Damian Lillard. The Mavericks eventually found their offense, jump started by a long three from Luka Doncic. Scoring for both teamed managed to heat up as they played deeper into the quarter and despite letting the Blazers shoot 60% from the field, the Mavericks took a 38-37 lead after twelve minutes.

The Maverick bench sustained and expanded on the lead to start the second. A Jalen Brunson-led effort pushed the lead from one to eight while Luka Doncic spent time on the bench. The Dallas offense threatened to run away with the game repeatedly but Lillard torched every Maverick defender as he assaulted the rim on multiple possessions. Luka Doncic put on a three point shooting display, hitting three more in the period to help Dallas extend the lead. A late Jalen Brunson steal and lay in gave Dallas a 72-63 lead at the half.

A sloppy start to the third befell both teams, with multiple turnovers and missed shots. Dallas held their lead throughout most of the quarter and briefly managed to extend it to 17 points following back-to-back threes by Seth Curry and Tim Hardaway Jr. But Portland turned on their offense in the final four and a half minutes, scoring 15 points to cut the Maverick lead to nine. The Mavericks led 98-89 heading into the final frame.

The fourth quarter for Dallas was extremely typical as of late. The Maverick bench unit lost all cohesion on both ends and Portland chopped the lead down to four points by the eight minute mark. Doncic and Hardaway Jr. returned around the eight minute mark to help keep the Blazers at bay. At the three minute mark with Dallas up six , the referees overturned a foul at the rim in favor of Portland. The Blazers failed to capitalize on their next three possessions and with a minute left, Luka Doncic scored on a lay up then a dagger three to put Portland away for good.

Now, some stuff.

Dallas won two important statistical markers

The Dallas Mavericks scored 60 points from distance on 20 of 47 attempts. The Blazers scored 27 points from beyond the arc on 9 of 30 shots. A +33 point advantage really helped on a night where Luka Doncic had a rough time inside the arc (just 4 of 11). Dallas often traded threes for twos with Portland and despite the Blazers shooting 52% over all, the Mavericks were able out score them.

Additionally, the Mavericks out rebounded the Blazers, 43-40. Though it felt like Hassan Whiteside had every board (he did have 18), the Mavericks winning that battle was key to them holding on late.

The fourth quarter offense looked... good?

Once we move past the rough bench minutes to start the fourth quarter, the wrinkle of letting Seth Curry run the offense on multiple possessions was extremely important. The offense can be extremely predictable when the Mavericks are looking to milk clock over getting good shots. Though the Blazers kept pace on the other end, often matching bucket for bucket, it was nice to see something different and see Dallas get out with a win after so many games where they simply lose momentum.

Thank goodness for Tim Hardaway Jr.

I made a lot of fun of THJ’s comments in the pre-season about being the Michael Finley of the Dallas Mavericks trio. I was wrong. He’s vital to the success of this offense. 29 points on 16 shots? Are you kidding me? We might have to start referring to it as the Tim Hardaway Jr. trade soon enough.

The lack of rim defense should bother everyone

There’s a 7’3” hole in the line up. There’s just no way around that. The team is, in part, designed around the defensive impact of Kristaps Porzingis. So if you were yelling at your screen as I often did when Lillard exploded into the paint, just know we’re all seeing the same stuff.

I don’t know what Dallas does about that. Boban is not a defensive answer, not against guards like that, Powell has never been a rim protector, and Maxi is at his best coming to help at the rim, not being the paint patrol man.

So at this point it’s best if Dallas is chasing guys off the three point line and tonight they got away with a valuable win despite allowing that many paint points.

Hassan Whiteside was very good for Dallas tonight

You read that correctly. There’s an argument to be made that Whiteside helped Dallas more than Portland. Between his FOUR defensive three second violations and a number of boneheaded fouls, he gave Dallas the edge in so many ways.

I remember pining for him a few years ago in free agency. Thank goodness that didn’t work out.

Carmelo Anthony gets way too much attention

He’s talked about by the announce crew as a vital part of NBA history and a top tier player. He isn’t on either account. Just so much wasted air time on a guy who was a -8 in an eight point loss. Lots of long two post ups. He’s not bad of course, he’s just a relic and it took the ESPN announce crew over a half to realize Luka Doncic and Dame Lillard were having awesome games.

See y’all Tuesday a the Mavericks play the Clippers.

Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below “More from Mavs Moneyball”, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.