mikebarrett

Apr 13

Mavs Survive Blazer Comeback

By mikebarrett
As we said a week ago, when a game between Portland and Dallas was coming down to the wire in Dallas, these two teams always put on a good show.  The last seven regular-season games between the Blazers and Mavericks have been decided by an average of 3.8 points, and nearly all have been decided in the final couple of possessions of the ballgame.

This one looked like the exception to that rule through much of the night, as Dallas, desperately needing this game, built a 24-point lead over the Blazers.  They came out sharp, focused, and wanting to put the Blazers down and keep them down.  Their start certainly put the Blazers down, but you knew a comeback was brewing- it always is when these two teams do battle.

Earlier in the season the Trail Blazers had a habit of starting slowly in games, digging themselves a deep hole, and then having to use a ton of energy to get back into things.  We haven't seen much of that lately, but certainly saw that tonight.  Dallas was moving with a determined pace on offense, was hitting shots, and playing suffocating defense in the opening quarter.  Combine their 57 percent shooting with Portland's 25 percent shooting and it actually surprising that the damage wasn't worse than 14 points after one.

Dallas took a 15 point lead to the locker room at halftime, and wanted to come out with the same passion in the third quarter.  They did.  The lead grew as high as 24 in that third quarter, but you got the sense that Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle wasn't ever comfortable, and was fearing a Portland run.  It would come, but not until the fourth quarter.

Even through Carlisle's conservative time outs, in an attempt to steady the ship, the Blazers suddenly were rolling and got themselves back in the game.  But, as has been the case on so many nights this season, it turned out to be too little too late.  When you're crawling back into a game from that far behind, everything has to go perfectly.  For Portland, it nearly did.

The Blazers put together a 34-14 run, including 12 straight points late in the fourth quarter to get to within four, at 93-89 with still 1:18 left.  But, with the ball, and with several attempts to make it a one-point game, the Blazers suffered two costly turnovers and were able to put the game away 97-94.

In their three meetings this season, the final scores were 97-94 in two overtimes, 99-97 in one overtime, and 97-94 in this one.  That would seem to indicate that these are two pretty evenly-matched teams.  Other than they way they've performed in close games this year, they are.

Dallas, with this win, is now 10-11 in games decided by five points or fewer.  The Trail Blazers, are now 5-14 in games decided by five or fewer.  The Mavs are 34-26, while the Blazers are 28-32.  Do the math, and it's clear what separates these teams.  That's nothing new, and we've been talking about it all season- the Blazers just haven't come up with the razor-sharp execution it takes in the closing moments of games.

Individually, the Trail Blazers were led by Nicolas Batum's 20 points and 8 rebounds.  But, he was the only Blazer who shot better than 50 percent (among the players who took more than two shots).  Wesley Matthews had 15, but was just 6 for 16, and Jamal Crawford had 18, but was just 6 for 17.

It was the third-straight double-double for J.J. Hickson, who was the focal point of Dallas' defense coming into this game.  A week ago, the Blazers beat the Mavericks thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge.  Now, with no L.A., it's been up to Hickson to carry the load.  To his credit, he still came up with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Now, there are only six games left, with five of those coming on the road.  Four of those five are against teams over .500 who are battling for playoff position.  

We'll head for Sacramento on Saturday, and Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. take on the Kings. Then, it's on to Phoenix for a Monday night game.  After that, it's Utah at home, followed by a brutal three-game road trip to wrap things up, at Memphis, at San Antonio, and at Utah.


16 Comments

  1. " But, with the ball, and with several attempts to make it a one-point game, the Blazers suffered two costly turnovers and were able to put the game away 97-94."

    Mike, what do you mean "SUFFERED"? Really?

    That sounds awfully homerish (id that's even a word.

    Answer this:

    What starting back court in the nba has the most costly turnovers and the most selfishness at the most critical points of a game than the Felton and Crawford? That last fast break would have cut it to 2! It was 3 on 1 and Crawford decides to take it himself like always! Then he turns it over on the dribble. Then Felton throws to great passes to the Mavericks players! ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME? We could have won this game!!!!!!!!!! I'm speechless!

    by sudelander on 4/13/2012 11:32 PM
  2. you know, i didn't have a whole lot of expectations coming into the game. since it was on espn, i was able to actually watch this one (sorry MB, just not able to get you and Rice down here at school). like wednesday's game, i really was just looking at what i think blazer management is looking at -- namely looking at the younger guys and others who we may want to keep as blazers next year.

    i figure the main guys basically auditioning for a roster spot next year are Hasheem, Jonny, and even Ray (i understand there are those who don't want him at any cost, but if we fail to find a starter in the off-season we may see him back). i'm not including J.J. nor Joel since i think they've each proven their cases. i also enjoy seeing Kaleb at the helm of this team.

    i have to say; Hasheem is growing on me. he's not making the biggest impact on the floor, but he's doing some pretty good things while he's out there (that inbound ally-oop almost went in). hearing some of the great things about him off the court only makes me more interested in seeing him remain a blazer. i think he could at least be a third-string or emergency guy for us this year. i'm not sold on Jonny. he does some good things, but then some not-so-good things. i guess i would say that he really hasn't been impressive.

    as for last night, i have to say that i'm getting very tired of guys like Jamal and Wesley having mediocre shooting nights. on a night when the mavs either hit nearly everything they put up or got a second-chance attempt, we can't afford to have guys shooting that badly. it's been exasperating to watch this constant ineptitude on the offensive end.

    Nicolas was our guy early in the game and he really showed up. i believe if he was not experiencing the tendinitis, his game would have been even better than he was, which was very, very good. J.J. continues to impress and provide consistency we often lack. i fully expect us to try and lock him into a contract once free agency begins (or perhaps a qualifying offer prior to that). i would have liked to seen Luke hit another shot or two, but i was pretty pleased with his hustle and desire to become a more than just a three-point shooter on offense. seems like he's showing us more and more of what he can do one game to the next.

    i don't like that we dug the hole, especially in the first quarter. that's where the game was lost. even when we weren't hitting our shots, we were still going hard. that's what earns my respect. of course, we all know that if Brandon was in the game, we would have pulled it out!

    overall, losing sucks, but i can live with the effort. i hope we can keep playing with the same intensity.

    ~ KMM

    seems like

    by Kassandra on 4/13/2012 11:47 PM
  3. @sudelander: 1. "suffered" is, indeed, a word. according to the dictionary, it is a verb indicating the past tense of "suffer." 2. our starting backcourt is Raymond and Wesley, not Raymond and Jamal. i do agree that the latter combination has had some very costly turnovers for us this season.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 4/13/2012 11:50 PM
  4. This team disappointed me this entire season. Did I expect them to win this game? No. Only fools did honestly.

    I haven't been here in awhile. Haven't had much interest in watching the Blazers. They made it this way. Only positive thing this entire season was the addition of JJ Hickson.

    This team needs to continue losing to make their own draft spot really good. I'd be more mad if we had won this game. I hate to say it, but in this league, you have to lose a bunch to win it all. Look at OKC.

    I lost interest when I saw the defense being about as good as the Bobcats. It just looks like this team shut off.

    by Herr on 4/14/2012 12:23 AM
  5. Hey Mike:
    I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with that big of a comeback without LaMarcus. Those turn overs at the end was awful, but Kaleb rightfully so instructed them to go inside regardless and as you said with the Mavs suffocating D that was hard and dangerous.
    All I was hoping for was to see the new players and for the players to play with pride and determination. It is true they weren't impressive with being competitive, but I feel they were a little over whelmed by a better shooting team. Of course at times we can make our out side shots and open the floor up a bit, but our shooting and team D has been our big let down all year.
    Since I wasn't expecting a win without LMA, I am proud of the fact that the team stayed in the fight. Getting knocked down again and again with Kirk's shooting takes it toll.

    by Hg on 4/14/2012 4:01 AM
  6. Sudelander: Yes we should have won this game and several others that we have lost in the final minutes, that was Mike's point, we have let to many games slip by in the closing minutes and yes the team and the fan's suffered another loss.

    Kassandra: I again agree with your assessment, I am one of the fans that have written Raymond off, not because he is not playing well, but because of what I feel he did to the franchise by his horrible play in the beginning of the season and not being accountable for his behavior and actions. In terms of helping the team as it is now, I think he is doing OK. I don't think he is elite PG that the FO wants, but would be a great back-up. Do you think Ray would settle for being a back-up? I am not knocking Raymond as much as I used to because Ray is what Ray is and all the bitching I do won't help that. I am with you on Crawford, not so much Wesley, Wesley is an off ball player and depends on players like Felton and Crawford let him play off them. Crawford ain't going to pass at all and Raymond's passing is somewhat questionable as we seen in the closing minutes last night. So until I see some team work out of Crawford and Raymond, I will give Wesley a pass, or until we get a point guard that has good court vision and can set up players. Elliot Williams says he is good at that, he can create his own shot and has pretty good handles, so I am thinking that he will be one of the two main 2gds next year.
    I agree with you on Thabeet, Chad kind of hinted when he got drafted that he would be a project player because of not playing BB, but so many teams wants results NOW, and Thabeet needs to be worked with constantly to get better. With what they will need to pay him and the athleticism he has, I think they will keep him as a project as they did Babbitt, which is starting to pay off.

    by Hg on 4/14/2012 4:35 AM
  7. I agree on Crawford. I call him a Watch me player. He was triple teamed last night and heaved it up anyway, on fastbreak, two guys following and he forces a shot.

    Could Thabbeet becomes a Mark Eaton type player? He seems to be a good free throw shooter. I really like Babbit's up side and JJ has my respect.

    by Ancientone on 4/14/2012 10:48 AM
  8. Ancientone: boy are we on the same page.

    by Hg on 4/14/2012 11:16 AM
  9. I thought it was gonna be a 40 point blowout and was scoffing at all the timeouts that Carlisle was calling. Much much closer than anticipated at the wire with You Know Who doing You Know What at the critical moment to seal the loss. Which was amusing if one doesn't put too much emotional energy in the Blazers winning, versus, you know, losing and getting a better draft pick.

    It's too bad that JJ had a bad game, but I guess it's a little much to expect him to average 25 points a night when he has an effective shooting range of 8 feet or so. At first I thought that he and LMA played the same position, but I'm now of the mind that they're good for one another -- Aldridge is a jumpshooter at heart and JJ is a tried-and-true low post mucker, which is exactly what the doctor ordered. He'll make a few dollars next summer, and good for him.

    Going into this season I called a .500 winning percentage and was about as low as anybody guessing these things. And it turns out, after the fast start, that I was a pretty huge optimist in that regard. But if the Blazers get two lottery picks, and if the Blazers are smart enough to go with what they know in keeping JJ and Nic, and if the Blazers manage to get a gettable PG in free agency Goran not going Dragic mention any names, and if LMA comes back from surgery okay -- all very possible things -- then next season should be okay. Portland isn't as bad as their record. They need a few pieces and are in position to add a few pieces...

    --timbo

    by Carrite on 4/14/2012 5:52 PM
  10. On the Hickson double-double, I don't put too much stake in that. A team's chief low-post player spending 40 minutes on the floor SHOULD get 10 rebounds. And it's good that he did that but not exceptional. What's needed is offensive punch, and JJ didn't quite have it going on against the Mavs. He's still my favorite player on the current team, but I've always been a sucker for low post grinders that work hard...

    by Carrite on 4/14/2012 5:59 PM
  11. Carrite: JJ was double teamed most of the night and Dallas defense was keyed on him, so he did alright.

    by Hg on 4/14/2012 6:11 PM
  12. Has a great handle
    Makes a lot of off balance, shouldn't go in baskets
    Good at drawing fouls
    Shooting percentage about 33% on a good night
    A defensive liability
    Turnover waiting to happen
    Me first, team second
    JAMAL

    by Divotking on 4/14/2012 8:46 PM
  13. Divotkeng: Good description

    by Ancientone on 4/15/2012 11:59 AM
  14. It wasn't the prettiest of all games, but at least it was on ESPN here on Brazil, and I could watch it entirely.

    Good effort coming back, I agree with someone here who said "we were overwhelmed by a better shooting team"... sometimes it happens, the other team has better shooters, more experience and composure.

    Anyways, I'd like even more if we won, at least we are losing to win a better place on draft, and giving the youngsters more minutes.

    This season is over for Portland anyways, so lets keep cheering, and building for next season \o/

    GO 2012-2013 BLAZERS !!!

    by Tiago Torigoe on 4/15/2012 2:08 PM
  15. I wonder who took abad shot and made an unforced turnover at the end of the game? Seems to be one of his major skills.

    by Ancientone on 4/16/2012 8:30 AM
  16. The Blazer pups need to learn to play a little defense.

    by Ancientone on 4/17/2012 9:47 AM
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