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4 things from the Mavericks discouraging loss in Portland

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The Mavs dropped a hard-fought game against the Blazers. Here are four things from the loss.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Portland Trail Blazers Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

If you like watching three quarters of fun basketball and one quarter of misery, only to walk away with a disappointing Mavericks loss, then this game was for you! Final score: Blazers 125, Mavs 119.

The game started out the way you’d expect a Friday night showdown between these two teams to go. It was all offense, all the time - a classic shootout. Luka Doncic would come down for the Mavs, make a play that led to a wide-open three and then Damian Lillard would come down and do the same. Only, it felt like the Mavs were doing it better. That stopped when it came to crunch time, though. The Blazers looked like the team that wanted it more and ultimately Dallas wasn’t able to get back on top.

Here are four things from the loss. We’ll alternate between bad and good.

Kristaps Porzingis was bad. Like, really bad.

Look, my thoughts on Kristaps Porzingis are well-documented. To put it simply, I’m not a fan. But I love the Mavs, so for the team’s sake, I always want him to perform well. Tonight, he reminded me why it’s so easy to not be a fan.

In the first half, he was abysmal. He took bad shots and looked disengaged on defense. He didn’t look like a max-contract-level guy who’s supposed to be Luka’s overqualified sidekick. Missing shots is one thing, but missing bad shots is another. It was hard to watch.

In the second half, some of his shots started to go in, but he still looked bad - especially at the little things down the stretch, like rebounding and rotating quickly on defense.

If you’re in the camp that believes the Mavs should trade Porzingis, tonight’s tape is a good one to put in your portfolio.

Luka’s magic show

Luka Doncic finished the game tonight with another amazing stat line. He had 38 points on 15-of-27 shooting from the field to go along with nine assists and nine rebounds. But how he got those numbers is what’s most impressive. He was a one-man magic act.

I mean, look at this pass:

I honestly thought my TV glitched. It didn’t look possible, and I’m still not sure it was.

The magical passes didn’t stop with that second-quarter dime. In the third quarter, he hit Maxi Kleber with a (somehow accurate) no-looker that will rival any pass this season.

Thanks to how it ended, this game was largely not fun. But thanks to Luka, at least we have some positive memories to leave with.

A scary, foreshadowing late-game collapse

The latter part of the fourth quarter in tonight’s game was a good example of what will likely happen in the playoffs (if the Mavs are fortunate enough to make it there). Dallas can survive late-game surges from bad teams that have the lottery on their minds, but against guys like Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, it won’t fly.

There wasn’t one specific play that the Mavs failed on that led to their ultimate demise. It was a large stretch of little mistake after little mistake after little mistake. Things like not boxing out, not playing team defense, and taking wild shots on crucial possessions. These are the things that need to get ironed out in the regular season, or there won’t be any success in the playoffs.

The Mavs role players have to step up when the game matters most. Luka can’t do everything.

Josh Richardson working his tail off

Josh Richardson was horrible on offense tonight. He missed shots, turned it over, and actually looked like he didn’t know how to dribble. But I’m giving him a pass because he was working (like, WORKING) on the defensive end of the court the entire night.

He was tasked with the nearly impossible job of guarding Lillard, and he actually did about as good of an individual job as one could expect. Lillard still had a nice night, but it wasn’t thanks to a lack of effort on his primary defender’s part.

Richardson was hawking Lillard over every screen, getting his hands up, deflecting passes, getting in Lillard’s jersey, and dirtying up pick-and-rolls. Basically, he did all you can do.

The box score won’t look good for Richardson, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

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.