After a heartbreaking loss on Friday night, the Mavericks bounce back in a big way and defeat Portland 132-92.
The game started out with Damian Lillard and Luka Doncic going back and forth in impressive fashion as Doncic and Lillard scored 12 and 11 points in the first quarter, respectively. The Mavericks trailed by three points after one. This punch-for-punch nature by both teams continued until the middle of the second quarter when Dallas put up eight points in a row to take a 51-44 lead and used that momentum to extend their lead to 65-54 at the half. The Mavericks would not look back, as they outscored the Trailblazers 38-15 in the third period and ultimately won the game by 40 points.
Tyler Bey, Nate Hinton, and Josh Green all received extended run in the fourth quarter and Green along with Hinton looked solid in their time on the floor. Green and Hinton both racked up four points and added one and two assists, respectively.
Josh Richardson had 21 big points and Dorian Finney-Smith made his return after missing two games due to the birth of his son.
Luka Doncic is very good at basketball
Do you remember when Luka Doncic started the year shooting less than 10 percent from three? Neither do I. Doncic has made poor shooting a distant memory and was nearly perfect from beyond the arc tonight as he made eight of his nine attempts. Part of the reason Dallas was able to pull away after halftime was because Doncic was 4-of-5 from distance in the quarter.
Doncic finished with 37 points, four assists, and seven rebounds in just 29 minutes. He showed off his entire arsenal of unstoppable moves, including the step-back three and the change-of-pace drive that got him easy buckets at the rim. As the Mavericks keep winning, Doncic is making a stronger and stronger case to be in the MVP conversation.
Doncic has scored 117 points in his last three games.
The Mavericks can be very good at defense when they want to be
If the Mavericks had not scored in the fourth quarter, they would have scored the same amount of points in the second half as Portland. They held the Trailblazers to just 38 second-half points, including 15 in the huge third quarter. Lillard and CJ McCollum were both held under 20 points on sub-50 percent shooting after they both scored 30 on Friday night.
The Mavericks defense looked cohesive and active from the end of the first quarter on, even carrying into when the rookies played a stretch of more than six minutes in the fourth. This team has shown they're capable of keeping a team, even a top offensive team like Portland, under 100 points on any given night, they just don’t do it consistently.
Kristaps Porzingis continues to improve on the defensive end, as he tallied 2 blocks and a steal in 25 minutes of action. He met Enes Kanter at the rim and had a huge block on his dunk attempt. The Unicorn grabbed eight rebounds as well.
The addition of Finney-Smith to the starting lineup was a welcome sight and there is no doubt he added to the defensive presence the Mavericks displayed.
Kristaps Porzingis continues to struggle offensively
I mentioned that Kristaps has been on an upward trend on the defensive end, but down on offense he has been trending in the opposite direction. Not only is this his third consecutive game with less than 15 points, but it is the third game in a row where he has shot less than 50 percent from the field.
He has been getting handled on the post by significantly smaller players and the three-ball has not been falling at a high enough clip to make up for his inefficiency inside the arc. He also has not been getting as many touches; just 32 shot attempts for Porzingis in his last three games.
The Mavericks are 2-1 in such games, he has been making an impact elsewhere, and this offensive struggle isn’t anything to worry about in the long term. Everyone goes through shooting slumps but perhaps this stretch showcases his offensive limitations and what he needs to work on if the Mavericks want to take their game to the next level.