The Dallas Mavericks helped the Portland Trailblazers end a five game losing streak, getting stomped on the road 136-119. Damian Lillard poured in 36 easy points to lead the Blazers, while Spencer Dinwiddie was the high point man for Dallas with 25.
The opening period was ugly for the Mavericks, who were now missing Christian Wood along with the injured slate of Josh Green, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Maxi Kleber. Toss in some early foul trouble from Dwight Powell and things were weird very early. The Blazers had plenty of chances to bury Dallas on the offensive end but missed lots of easy looks. The Mavericks made the Blazers pay for their defensive decision to double Luka Doncic every time. Reggie Bullock came alive, hitting three of the eight Dallas makes from beyond the arc in the first quarter. Dallas trailed 31-30 after one.
The second quarter traditions continued: Doncic on the bench and the Dallas offense becoming a horrific mess. The Mavericks hung around for a time, but with Dallas having to play offensive forces like Theo Pinson, the Blazers inched ahead. Powell returned only to pick up his third, then fourth fouls (the latter of which is as strong of an indictment to how bad JaVale McGee is as anything we’ve seen all season), which helped Portland build a double digit lead. The Mavericks limped into the half down 71-56.
Defensive woes continued for Dallas in the third, giving up bucket after bucket with no viable rim protection (thank goodness for that summer JaVale McGee signing am I right?!). But the offense came alive somewhat, as Bullock’s torrid shooting continued through the third. Dallas looked alive late in the frame, closing the Portland lead to 11 with two minutes left. But the Mavericks allowed dribble penetration leading to Blazers threes and ended up trailing 106-90 heading into the final quarter.
The Mavericks were down 19 points immediately, then over 20 and yet coach Jason Kidd left his starters in the game. The two teams play tomorrow night, so what he was aiming at is beyond this mere writer and Twitter coach. Around the seven minute mark, Luka Doncic picked up two quick fouls in a bit of frustration and Tim Hardaway Jr. sprained his ankle in a meaningless play down 21. After a quick timeout, Kidd finally cleared his bench and it was a question of how many points the Blazers would score. Dallas succeeded in giving up 30 or more points in all four quarters and ended up losing 136-119.
It turns out, missing rotation players catches up with a team
It’s been over a month since Green and Kleber last played. We’re a few days off from Dorian’s absence eclipsing a month. That the Mavericks have managed to keep things afloat is a testament to Luka Doncic more than anything else, along with Christian Wood getting starts and playing more minutes.
I’m rather shocked the wheels didn’t come off sooner, but when looking at the massive minutes totals from the Thursday win against the Lakers, this felt like it was a strong possibility heading into the game and that was before Wood was ruled out. Dallas needs to get healthy and get some rest. They’re fighting a war of attrition.
The bench is a mess of the Mavericks own making
The previous section aside, part of what great teams do is weather the storm through depth. That’s one thing this team doesn’t have and hasn’t had during Doncic’s entire tenure with the team. McGee and Frank Ntilikina are very end of bench players at best and Theo Pinson shouldn’t be on a NBA team at his talent level and yet all three have been forced into regular roles with this team. All of that is something Dallas opted into, signing all three.
It’s just frustrating, because these positions which we’re told don’t matter always do during a very long NBA season.
At least Reggie Bullock is alive
Bullock hit a career high eight threes tonight on ten attempts and it single handedly raised his season percentage from 31.3% to 33.8%. Considering we’re 44 games into the season, that’s pretty remarkable. It’s been a frustrating season for Bullock and for fans watching him as his shot’s been bad and his defense has been worse. If Dallas is to have any long term hope of doing anything past treading water, it involves Bullock being a contributor. Hopefully tonight is one step.
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