Game Slips Away in Dallas
On Sunday, the Trail Blazers won a game despite shooting 43 percent. That was at home. Having an off night offensively on the road is an entirely different challenge. On Tuesday night in Dallas the Trail Blazers shot just 42 percent, and that wasn't enough to get the job done. The defense and rebounding were fine. But, sometimes it's as simple as hitting outside shots.
It was an inspired effort by the shorthanded Mavericks, and we expected as much. As the Trail Blazers know very well, sometimes nothing gets you as focused as being without your star. But, even with their improved energy, the Mavericks were simply allowed
to hang around in this game. That's what had the Blazer players very upset after the game. This was an opportunity to get a nice road win, and they let it slip away.
It was similar, in many ways, to the game they lost in Dallas three weeks ago. This time, instead of watching Dirk Nowitzki go nuts in the final two minutes of the game, they watched Jason Terry come alive and hit everything he threw at the rim in crunch time.
Terry scored 7 of Dallas' final 10 points, and led them on a 12-4 run to end the game. While they were efficient late, and capitolized on every possession, the Trail Blazers didn't look sure of where they wanted to attack the Mavs' defense in the final minutes. They fought the shot clock repeatedly in the final minutes and didn't get many decent looks at the rim.
You don't have to look too long at the stat sheet to see where Portland came up short in this game. It certainly wasn't inside. You can't ask any more of LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby. But, they need help.
Aldridge had 28 points and 10 rebounds, and Camby was all over the floor, scoring 10 points and pulling down 20 rebounds. But, the starting backcourt was just 7 for 21 shooting, and the bench was 5 for 13. Add the fact that Portland, one of the league's better free-throw shooting teams, was just 11 for 17 at the line, and you have a recipe for a road loss.
What always concerns me, after a loss like this, are the lingering effects. This Porltand team was very down after this loss, and it was a huge blow to the momentum they have built lately. When you start a key road trip with an emotionally-draining loss it has the ability to knock you off track for the entire trip. We've seen so many examples of that over the years. It's the same as winning the first game on a trip, and that's something we always talk about. That sets the tone, just as losing the first game does.
Tonight it's a rematch with the Houston Rockets, who were beaten soundly on Sunday in Portland. They had to play again on Monday night, and lost in Denver as well. They'll be very, very hungry for a win tonight, and they'll be doing it in a building where Portland has had very little success over the years.
Even though the Trail Blazers aren't probably in the mood to take a big mid-term exam at this point, they're going to get one tonight.
You can take it from here. Road back-to-back situations leave us very little time to prepare for the upcoming game. And, I'm getting back to that right now.