Road Takes: Blazers beat down Mavs, step forward into 1st place
In Dallas, they will never speak of this night again.
A display of outright dominance by the Portland Trail Blazers led them to a 127-111 victory over the Dallas Mavericks that wasn’t even that close.
While Portland’s dynamic ball movement and shot making has gotten them a few blowouts this year, record-setting three-point shooting wasn’t the key tonight.
The Trail Blazers feasted at the rim, led by Nicolas Batum in the early going. Batum had three dunks in the first quarter as Dallas’ choice to match-up Shawn Marion on Damian Lillard and Jose Calderon on Batum worked wonderfully…for the Blazers.
The Mavericks defense came in ranked one spot behind the Blazers but their lack of rim protection was glaring tonight.
We’ve complained before about the Blazers defense but this was a whole new level of bad put on display by the Mavericks. Give credit to the Blazers for finishing at the rim and in the low-efficiency paint area outside of the restricted area but Dallas was bad tonight.
Things could have been much worse for the Mavericks had the Blazers hit their threes like they normally do as they went 9/26 on the long ball.
Batum was the spark to get the Blazers off on the right foot, getting everything he wanted going to the basket and mixing in a couple of other shots.
LaMarcus Aldridge, making his return to his hometown of Dallas, was also instrumental in helping Portland build the lead.
But while Dallas’ defense was awful, Portland’s defense deserves credit for putting up another consistent defensive performance for the second consecutive night.
Through 2.5 quarters, this was Dallas’s shot chart.
This game was officially a disaster for the Mavericks. The Blazers forced them out of good shots and even the fact that they shot well above average from the midrange couldn’t help them.
When the Blazers play even decent, league-average defense, they turn things up to another level because their offensive execution is so machine-like. Also, when they are able to get stops, they are able to get into their offense without having to run set plays. Unsurprisingly, like most teams, they score better when they defend better as a team.
The Blazers ended the night with a 105.7 defensive rating mostly because the bench unit that they had in the game in the fourth quarter was atrocious. Portland’s starters outscored whoever they faced by 22 points in 20 minutes on the court together and had an overall net rating (point differential per 100 possessions) of 50.8.
Their end numbers were dragged down by a bench unit that couldn’t hold the Blazers lead which was as big as 38.
Portland’s bench unit of Meyers Leonard, Thomas Robinson, Dorell Wright, Will Barton and C.J. McCollum were outscored by 19 points in an eight minutes that won’t be making ESPN Classic anytime soon.
Dallas pressed, they got turnovers and they got the Blazers young guys to play fast and impatient basketball. Eventually, the starters had to come back in after leaving at the end of the third quarter.
While the starters had to come back in to finish the game, that shouldn’t take away from the fact that tonight was an overall step forward for the Blazers tonight.
They continued to play good defense. They took away good looks at the rim, they continued to do a solid job defending the three-point line and they forced Dallas to shoot midrange jumpers.
They switched everything defensively and while the Mavericks made some tough midrange shots, they were the shots Portland is okay with giving up.
The Blazers said before they left for this road trip that they had an opportunity in front of them.
So far, they’ve made the most of it by getting two victories in two games.
But what’s been the most impressive is how they’ve done it and how they continue to take steps forward.
With every step forward, they are making every other team in the Western Conference shake in their boots just a little bit more.
The Blazers are now tied with the San Antonio Spurs for 1st place in the Western Conference.