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3 thoughts from a Dallas Mavericks win over the Portland Trail Blazers, 126-97

The Mavericks got back on track with a win over the Blazers.

Portland Trail Blazers v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday night in Dallas, winning 126-97. The game was never in doubt, as it was clear from the tip the Blazers never had a chance to keep up with the Mavericks. Dallas just picked Portland apart methodically while the starters were in, at one point pushing to a 30-point lead early in the third quarter.

As such, there’s really no gameplay to break down here. The Blazers are one of the worst teams in the league, and they played especially bad tonight. The Mavericks, pretty close to full strength, didn’t play with their food tonight and never let Portland get in the game. It’s the type of win you’d like to see from a team trying to secure at least a top-six seed in the playoffs.

Luka Doncic led all scorers with 41 points. Kyrie Irving scored 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Tim Hardaway Jr. had 14 off the bench. Shaedon Sharpe led the Blazers with 16.

Here are three thoughts from the game:

Kyrie shook the rust off

In his second game back, Irving looked good, especially to start the game. He scored 22 points in the first half. The other half of the Mavericks’ superstar back court seemed to be playing close to the level he was before he was injured. Dallas desperately needs his production in order to stay competitive while giving Doncic some time to rest. A couple of exhibition games against Portland will definitely help get Irving’s rhythm back.

The Mavericks got to the line often

There wasn’t much the Mavericks could do wrong tonight against the Blazers. They shot 43 percent from deep, and 50 percent overall. Despite this, though, they still put their heads down, drove to the rim, and drew fouls. They shot 41 free throws. Unfortunately, the same old Dallas free throw ghosts haunted them at the charity stripe, as they only shot 70 percent on these freebies. Luckily it didn’t matter tonight.

Lively’s ankle is twisted—again

Lively went down in the third quarter after twisting his ankle. The Mavericks called it a sprained ankle and he didn’t return to the game. Lively missed four games already when spraining the same ankle against these same Blazers a few weeks ago. Dallas really missed his presence in the paint while he was out. Dwight Powell will be around, of course, but Maxi Kleber is out, and as far as I can tell, Jason Kidd has forgotten Richaun Holmes is on the roster, so the Mavericks’ big man rotation is severely compromised if Lively misses more games.