The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Portland Trailblazers 117-112 Saturday night in Dallas. Dallas was looking to start their homestand on a good note after dropping two games on a road back-to-back, and Portland was looking hot, carrying a 6-1 road record and arriving in Dallas to finish a six-game road trip.
Luka Doncic shook off whatever ailed him in a lackluster performance in Washington and finished with a huge 42-13-10 triple-double. Spencer Dinwiddie had a big night as well, contributing 20 points, but coming up huge in the fourth as Dallas was looking to throw a knockout punch. Dallas held Damian Lillard somewhat in check. He shot just 6-of-16, but a healthy 15-of-17 night from the free throw line helped him to a 29-point night. The bigger story for Portland was new addition Jeremy Grant scoring a new season-high 37 points. In the end it wasn’t enough, as Dallas left with the dub.
This game was quite strange in how it played against type. Our former colleague Iztok Franko noted before tipoff how Dallas and Portland had operated this season. Largely, Dallas played big before halftime, posting some of the best second quarter numbers in the league. Portland, expectedly, has been an absolute monster in the fourth. It seems that the concept of Dame Time has rubbed off on the entire squad. The path to a Dallas victory seemed to be: build a 30 point lead in the first half and hope it’s enough to withstand a fourth-quarter assault from Portland to maybe hang on and win by five.
Well, with Dallas trailing by three to start the fourth, things didn’t feel great. That Dallas had even kept things close into clutch time was something of a victory on its own. Then, after what had been a shaky shooting night up to that point, the floodgates blew open.
Down 106-103 with 2:10 to go, Spencer Dinwiddie hit back-to-back-to-BACK three-pointers that proved to be the back-breaker Dallas desperately needed. Portland is too dangerous a team to let just hang around. A missed Lillard layup followed by a Dorian Finney-Smith three on the next possession was a cherry on top as Dallas suddenly had a seven-point lead with under a minute to go.
After opening the season with solid hustle and incredible shooting, many were looking for third year forward Josh Green to get a bigger role in the Mavericks rotation. He didn’t get the start, but we saw some movement in that direction.
With Reggie Bullock starting the season slowly, as is tradition, it makes sense to go to a hot player like Green while Bullock rounds into shape. The issue was somewhat forced as Bullock was dealing with some early foul trouble. Still, Green ended up with Bullock’s first-half minutes, playing 16:25 to Bullock’s 7:35. In crunch time, though, it was Bullock that Kidd went with to close out the game.
It was somewhat of a return to Earth game for Green in terms of shooting. Not a surprise. No one thinks he became a 50% three-point shooter overnight. He hit just one in this game, but it was timely – a game-tying triple early in the fourth.
Until the flurry that put them ahead for good in the fourth, Dallas had not been shooting well. Through three quarters, the Mavs shot just 9-of-34 or 26.5% beyond the arc. Typically, if you see that number on a box score from Dallas, you’d expect things to be looking pretty ugly. With the defense still working on finding its footing this season, Dallas has been largely reliant on its offense, and especially its three-point shooting, to carry the day.
However, Dallas was down only three to start the fourth because they bullied Portland in the paint badly. After three, Dallas had built a 14-point differential on paint points, 38-to-24, and they did it efficiently, going 19-of-24. Earning points down low kept them close enough that one big push late was enough to topple the Trail Blazers.
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