Knee Jerk Reactions: Mavericks 114, Blazers 91
Damian Lillard couldn’t shoot straight. Ball movement was non existent. The Trail Blazers got too sloppy with their sets in the second half. But the loss tonight can be blamed on one thing – well, if you want to get cute, two things.
DE and FENSE
Dallas shot 78% in the fourth quarter. Mindblowing. O.J. Mayo played with an endless motor and kept at Wesley Matthews for 32 points on 12 of 18 shots. But it wasn’t just Mayo, the Dallas backcourt worked over Portland’s defense. Point guard Darren Collison had 14 points and 13 assists – matching the Blazers’ team total – and he didn’t commit a turnover until late in the fourth quarter.
Focus on the backcourt battle
When you look at Lillard and Collison in comparison, all but one of Collison’s 8 shot attempts came within the paint (also consider that Collison was taking reserve Ronnie Price to the rim an awful lot, too). Now break down Lillard’s shot chart: 13 official shots, 6 beyond the arc, only 2 within the paint. He finished 2 for 13 for 13 points. The Dallas D did a number on Lillard after halftime. He couldn’t crack at all from the floor (0 for 6) and the Blazers offense followed suit.
It certainly looked like the Blazers were in their final quarter of a three-game road trip, because their effort was already packed up and ready to go by the fourth. Seven turnovers in the quarter but at least they got some practice with rebounding – so many bricks being laid, they got nine offensive boards out of the misses.
But while the Blazers were struggling to score – just 4 for 22 in the fourth – LaMarcus Aldridge sat on the bench for a long stretch while rookies Joel Freeland and Meyers Leonard worked together on the floor. I’m curious as to why coach Terry Stotts only played Aldridge 5 minutes and 59 seconds in a fourth quarter that got away from the Blazers.
Reserve the criticism for another day
For the first time this season, the Blazers got a collective effort from their bench. Not just one guy standing out, but several pitching in with a couple buckets. Blazer reserves scored 17 points, still not enough to get it done on a nightly basis, but a step in the right direction and their best scoring night of the young season.
Leonard had 6 pts and 7 rebounds through the second quarter. Jared Jeffries, although he still couldn’t drain a shot from distance, scored one FG inside. Sasha Pavlovic hit a three and Price, in his second game, made the leap to 17:50 minutes on the court. Price had to come in and play early after Lillard picked up two fouls by the 8:42 mark of the first quarter. Price looked spry on his sprained right ankle, stayed in front of Collison and mostly kept the ship steady by running the O (mostly zipping the ball to Aldridge). It wasn’t until the third quarter when Price looked like a liability – a bad pass, a missed floater and three fouls all within a two-minute stretch.
Win one, lose one. That’s been the early trend so far for the Blazers (2-2). They’ll have Tuesday off and return to practice on Wednesday. Lob City comes to Portland on Thursday, so the Blazers will have to match up with the Los Angeles Clippers, another high-pace, high-scoring team with a deeeeeep bench. It’s almost unfair that Jamal Crawford plays as their sixth man and a former Sixth Man of the Year, Lamar Odom, is just one of their dudes in the rotation. But it’s another good test for the young Blazers and a primetime game that will be showcased on national televison.