The Dallas Mavericks lost to the Portland Trail Blazers 140-123 Sunday night in Portland. It’s the second straight loss to the Trail Blazers, and concludes five-game, West Coast road trip at a disappointing 1-4.
After playing an exhaustive double-overtime game against the Lakers on Thursday and then a blowout against the Trail Blazers on Saturday, most of the Mavericks major pieces missed this second night of a back-to-back. No Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., with those two joining the already injured Dorian Finney-Smith, Josh Green, and Maxi Kleber. Dallas only played four normal rotation players Sunday night, relying on a lot of the deep end of the bench.
Shockingly enough, the Mavericks competed way above expectation. The effort wasn’t shocking, but the results definitely were. Dallas played about as well as it could considering the available roster, even taking a brief lead in the third quarter. It wasn’t enough, however. Damian Lillard led all scorers with 40 points, with a bunch coming in the fourth quarter that blew the game wide open.
Spencer Dinwiddie did his best Doncic impression, leading the team with 28 points, nine assists, and only one turnover.
Legitimate props for the Mavericks effort
If you didn’t watch the game, it’s probably hard to imagine why a 17-point loss on the second night of a back-to-back should be applauded, but the Mavericks really held in against a superior opponent.
Keeping it only a seven point deficit at halftime allowed the Mavericks to have a puncher’s chance in the third quarter. The Mavericks scored a whopping 41 points in the frame, even briefly taking the lead. To trail by only three to enter the fourth quarter meant the Mavericks had a chance, which is more than anyone could have expected hours earlier. The team obviously ran out of steam in the final frame, but it was still an impressive performance all the same.
The Mavericks could have lost this game by 40 points and no one would have batted an eye. Credit to the guys that played tonight that this game wasn’t the laugher it could have been.
Jaden Hardy’s career night
Part of the reason this game was so much more entertaining than it had any right to be for Mavericks fans is because rookie Jaden Hardy scored a career-high 25 points.
Hardy only scored six points in the first half, but he surpassed that with a brilliant third quarter that saw him score nine points on four free throws, a three pointer, and a drive to the basket. What’s great about Hardy’s third quarter was this was when the game was still up in the air and Hardy’s scoring burst was a major reason the Mavericks went on a run to keep the game close.
Like the rest of the team, Hardy dropped off a little in the fourth quarter, still scoring but going 4-of-11 from the field. It was still great to see. While the Mavericks might be in trouble if they need to translate Hardy’s regular minutes into winning basketball, Hardy doing stuff in the time he’s getting is a sight for sore eyes on this older Mavericks roster.
Just need Doncic to teach Hardy how to shoot a floater and he’s in business.
The Mavericks need help
Dallas’ injury report is uncomfortably long. Kleber won’t be back anytime soon, but there was hope from coach Jason Kidd that both Green and Finney-Smith could return during this road trip. Neither played. In addition, Christian Wood hurt his ankle in the Lakers win and Tim Hardway Jr. sprained his ankle Saturday night.
Thankfully Wood returned Sunday, but Hardaway was out. If Hardaway joins Green and Finney-Smith as inactive this week, well, it’ll be even harder for the Mavericks to pull themselves out of the muck they are in. Dallas desperately needs all three of those dudes healthy as soon as possible, because unfortunately some of the rope given from the seven game winning streak has vanished.
The Mavericks were a season-high six games over .500 after the win streak, and now after this 2-5 stretch, they’re right back in the danger zone of the play-in tournament. Dallas should easily be better than the teams below them in the standings when fully-healthy, but it might not matter if the Mavericks take too long to get fully healthy. Hopefully some missing players return during the upcoming four-game homestand, starting on Wednesday.
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