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Stats rundown: 4 numbers to know from the Mavericks’ 131-120 win at the Trail Blazers

Luka Dončić 40-point triple-doubles are a cheat code

Dallas Mavericks v Portland Trail Blazers
Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks goes to the basket during the game on December 16, 2023 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon.
Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images

Luka Dončić once again put the ailing Dallas Mavericks (16-9) on his back Saturday, getting whatever he wanted against a porous Trail Blazer defense in a 131-120 win at Portland’s Moda Center. Dončić scored 40, piled up 12 rebounds and dished 10 assists in the eighth 40-point triple-double of his career.

Tim Hardaway Jr. bounced back from a putrid shooting performance in Thursday’s 119-101 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves with 25 points, six boards and five made 3-pointers as well.

Though it took most of the first quarter for the supporting cast to get going, Dante Exum and Derrick Jones Jr. also stepped up in a shorthanded situation with 18 points apiece in the win.

Fifth-year Portland guard Anfernee Simons led the Blazers (6-18) with 33 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the loss. Simons also led the Blazers with 30 points in the teams’ previous meeting last week, a 125-112 Mavericks win. Power forward Jerami Grant added 27 points and five boards for the Blazers Saturday.

12-of-15: Portland’s shooting start

Portland established the tone of the game early on, and they did it behind the efforts of two players the Blazers were without in these teams’ first meeting a week ago. Grant and big man DeAndre Ayton started the game 8-for-8 from the field and scored the Blazers’ first 18 points against the Mavericks’ famous disappearing interior defense.

Then Anfernee Simons got into a rhythm. He scored 10 points in a span of about 3 minutes late in the first quarter as Portland built its early lead to eight, up 27-19, and forcing a Jason Kidd timeout. The Blazers started the game shooting 12-of-15 from the field and went 16-of-24 in the first quarter.

Portland led 39-36 after one.

13-0: The Mavericks’ run to answer

Dallas wasted no time responding to Portland’s quick start. Including Hardaway’s 3-pointer on the final possession of the first quarter, the Mavs went on a 13-0 run of their own stretching into the second.

Dallas Mavericks v Portland Trail Blazers
Tim Hardaway Jr. #10 of the Dallas Mavericks shoots a three point basket during the game on December 16, 2023 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon.
Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images

Two more Hardaway 3-balls and another from Seth Curry corrected the Mavs’ course for the rest of the first half. Dallas outscored Portland 38-24 in the second quarter and took a 74-63 lead into the break.

16 points, 10 rebounds: Frontcourt production after Lively’s injury

Things on the injury front got even more bleak Saturday, as Dereck Lively II sprained his ankle when he came down on Portland forward Jerami Grant’s foot as the two battled for a rebound under the basket midway through the first quarter. Lively did not return to the game.

In his absence, Dwight Powell and Markieff Morris combined for 16 points and 10 rebounds the rest of the way. Morris’ 10 points was a season-high effort thus far.

If Lively and Richaun Holmes, who was out Saturday with a non-COVID illness, are not able to go in the Mavs’ next game Monday at Denver, that would leave Powell and Morris exposed for large swaths of the game against one of the biggest and most talented frontcourts in the game.

10: Consecutive 30-point games for Dončić

Dončić set two more franchise marks Saturday. We hesitate to call these franchise records because we don’t know if these are officially kept or not. They are notable, though.

When he crossed the 30-point threshold Saturday, he broke the team record for consecutive 30-point games, with 10. Dončić came into the game tied with Dirk Nowitzki at nine.

Oh yeah, and he accomplished that one in the first half. He had a casual 30 points at the half against Portland, 22 of which came in the first quarter. He became the 22nd player in NBA history to score 30 or more in 10-straight games and the sixth player to accomplish the feat in the last 10 years, according to Elias Sports.

When Dončić passed the 35-point threshold with less than a minute left in the third, he set another franchise mark, passing Nowitzki for the most 35-point games in team history, at 79. Mark Aguirre is third on the list with 69.

Dončić knocked in 3-pointers on the Mavericks’ first two possessions of the third quarter to make it happen. He shot 4-of-12 from 3-point territory and 15-of-28 from the field in 37 minutes against the Blazers.