Apr 07

Barton-Led Comeback Falls Short

By mikebarrett
Despite a career night from rookie Will Barton, the Trail Blazers came up empty on a final possession with a chance to force overtime, and lost to the Dallas Mavericks 96-91.

It was a strange ball game, and turned out to be a close ball game, as most games between the Blazers and Mavericks end up being.  Dallas has lost a lot of leads this season, along with a lot of very close games, and this one looked to perhaps be headed in that direction again.  But, their 26-point lead turned out to be just too much for Portland to overcome.

It was all Mavericks early in this game, as they jumped on top of the Trail Blazers and took total control.  They held Portland to just 32 first-half points, and were finding little resistance at the offensive end.  For most of the night this game didn't have the look or feel of one that would come down to the wire.

Enter Will Barton.

The player who was selected with the 40th pick in the NBA Draft told teammates before the game that this would be a career night for him.  I wasn't there, but I would imagine that was met with smiles, nodding heads, and perhaps even a "okay Will, you go and do that."  Little did they know.

But, as Barton has been telling anyone who would listen all season, all he needed was an opportunity.  And, truth be told, that's all a lot of players in this league need.  Only a few ever get it, and even fewer totally take advantage of it the way Barton did on Sunday night.

With Portland down 26, Terry Stotts went to an unconventional lineup, with JJ Hickson and LaMarcus Aldridge out of the game.  Nic Batum was sitting this one out with a sore shoulder, and Wesley Matthews had left the game in the first half.  So, with just Damian Lillard as the sole starter in the game, the Blazer machine started to fire, with Barton providing most of the fuel.  

Barton scored from inside and outside, provided high-flying dunks, started grabbing every rebound in sight, and even recorded three steals.  He ended with a career-high 22 points, a career-high 13 rebounds, a career-high 6 assists, and a career-high 3 steals.  So, yeah, I guess that would qualify as a career game.

Barton also didn't commit a single turnover, and also hit two clutch free throws in the final minute to cut Dallas' lead to just three points.  After a defensive stop the Blazers got the ball back with 12 seconds left.  The Blazers then ran a play that was designed to get Luke Babbitt (who also played well) a look at a game-tying three in the corner.  When that wasn't open, Lillard attempted to get a quick two and darted down the left side of the lane.  He took a hard shove from behind and missed at the rim, and Dallas was able to throw the rebound ahead and seal the game with a lay in as time expired.

Some were asking after the game why the Blazers didn't hold the ball and try to get the game-tying three.  Again, from what I understand, that was the original plan.  But, by getting a quick two as a second option, it would have allowed the Blazers to foul quickly, and send Dallas to the line.  At worst, they would have gotten the ball back, down three, facing the same situation, with less time of course, to try for another game-tying three.  But, when Lillard's attempt missed, it finished the game.

Clearly, playing like their slim-playoff hopes were the line, like they were, Dallas played with a sense of urgency the Blazers simply couldn't match early in this game.  And, while the loss hurts, the battle from behind was good to see.  Seeing what Barton is capable of turns into the bright spot on this night.  Moral victories stink, but that's kind of where we find ourselves anyway at this point.

Barton became the first rookie in the NBA this season to go for 22 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists.  In fact, he's the first rookie to post numbers like that in a game since Grant Hill did it in 1995.  That's pretty impressive stuff, on an otherwise unimpressive night.  Has a rookie taken in the second round ever done something like this?  I'd love to able to confirm that, but I can't imagine that's happened in the modern era.

Next up, it's the Lakers on Wednesday night.  It never takes more than that to get the Rose Garden fired up, and now, given what happened around the NBA on Sunday, this game has more meaning than that.  Because of Utah's win at Golden State, and the Laker loss to the Clippers, the Jazz have a half-game lead on the Lakers for the 8th and final playoff spot.  Because the Jazz own the tie breaker in that series, you can go ahead and consider that lead a game and a-half, because the Lakers would have to finish one game ahead of Utah to win the spot.

So, Portland now has the chance to deliver what very well could be a crushing blow to L.A.'s playoff hopes.  It's an opportunity for the Blazers, who could very well be without Batum and Matthews.  And, it's a chance to pick up what could be the moral victory of the season.

Talk to you Wednesday.


  1. You know I expected 30 wins this season so im am not down at all about the loss. I still enjoy watching in all honesty they could be the bobcats thank god there not and i would still love it, because i love the game i think it takes so much skill to do. I am glad that i am blazer fan with that being said. Barton had a great game and i think for the next 5 games LA, Hickson, Lillard, Batume and Wes should start but be limited to 15 min a game if they play at all no point in risking it. I want to see Barton I wish i could see elliot, And i want to see Meyers this is what i want to see so just do it already lol. It is not about tanking i think those guys that i want to play more mins have more fight in them at this time because they have something to prove. This is not to say the other do not want to win they do just dont want to risk them getting hurt.

    by Avgjoe28 on 4/7/2013 9:58 PM
  2. At last, we went to the end fighting. I have been kind of down on the Blazers, not for losing, but losing without any fight. Tonight we went out swinging and had a good chance of winning the game.

    by Hg on 4/7/2013 11:18 PM
  3. Hey Mike,
    The play was designed to go to Babbitt. We've seen the play several times. Usually Batum is the man streaking through the paint to get to the near corner on the side of the inbounds pass. On this play Babbitt fell down in the paint. Never made it to the spot. It would have been a turnaround 3. Not Babbitt's strength. Still I liked the play. When Babbitt fell down, Dlill had to improvise. A broken play. What a shame. Nice comeback.
    Happy for Will. He is a street baller. We need a guy like him on the team going forward. He's a wild card. I was impressed at how calm he looked. He didn't rush anything. He was like a tornado under control. If you say a guy has to earn his time on the floor. He did that with his rebounding alone.
    One game on the schedule that is a must win. Wednesday. Throw will in there. Make Kobe play honest. He will have to block out and chase Will around.
    The kid pumped new energy into the team. And the fans. Most fun I've had all year in a loss.

    by Divotking on 4/8/2013 6:23 AM
  4. Wasn't sure they could make it back into the game. There has not been a lot of D of late. You go, Will Barton. Mike you are exactly right. There are a lot of guys just waiting for an opportunity. Time to see what else we have. Trade Batum, keep JJ. Just saying...

    by allie-oop on 4/8/2013 6:48 AM
  5. @Divotking: Barton is our Tasmanian Devil

    @allie oop: why do you want to trade Batum and keep JJ? they play two different positions and Shem stated that JJ wants to be on a team that he can be the starting PF, so what do you want to do with LaMarcus? trade him for a top notch Center as Don has stated? That might work but IMO JJ is not the PF that LaMarcus is and also IMO, we just need a rent a center for two years because Leonard will be our CENTER of the FUTUE.

    @Shem, Don, Divotking:

    this is a question of legality:
    Could we sign and trade JJ as we have his grandfather rights to a team that needs a power forward and has a center to spare, the Mavs has two FA centers, could we do a dbl sign and trade with them?

    by Hg on 4/8/2013 9:04 AM
  6. Hg;
    I am the wrong guy to answer your question. NBA labor negotiations are so complicated. I am most of the time lost in that department.
    Of course no sign and trade could be done now.
    The last thing any team wants is to let a guy go without any thing in return. Unfortunately I think we have multiple players leaving with us getting nothing for them. I think you know who they are. Our only hope is Charlotte wants a couple of them.

    by Divotking on 4/8/2013 11:21 AM
  7. I thank you Divotking.

    by Hg on 4/8/2013 12:54 PM
  8. Did anyone else have visions of Billy Ray Bates when Barton took over?

    There was no defense played until that streak in the 2nd half. What could have happened if the team hadn't mailed in the 1st half? Hungry players play hard I guess, being well paid and pride weren't enough in the 1st half. Guys that wanted to play did in the 2nd.

    by Ancientone on 4/8/2013 4:43 PM
  9. Ancientone: I had forgotten Billy Ray Bates:

    I don't know why the starting five can't play D, but it sure need fixin.

    by Hg on 4/8/2013 11:35 PM
  10. Good game to Barton .. I like Wesely interview after the rocket game about tired of losing.. I dont blame him if he wants to be traded for 13-14 season .. But good luck during the off season hope they make good choices

    by LA 2012 on 4/9/2013 1:24 PM
  11. Start four rooks? Why not I guess. Big night for Dame. He will need some help from the perimeter. Someone will have to make some shots.
    Tall order for Meyers against the best rebounder in the league. We will need some help from the end of the bench at center.
    Here's your opportunity. It's time to shine boys.
    Could make beating the Lakers even sweeter.

    by Divotking on 4/9/2013 8:19 PM
  12. @Hg: Dallas still has Dirk and he seems to have a few years left, so I doubt they'll be in the market for a PF. Still, LMA does come from Dallas, so anything could happen there. As for trade legality, I'm with Divotking, not knowledgable enough about NBA complicated trade rules.

    Concerning Nic Batum: Barring a super deal we won't be trading him, he does too many things on the court to replace in one body. But, and this is a big but as far as I'm concerned -- Nic has got to start being more aggressive to the rim! He continues to flip floaters from 6 to 8 ft out instead of going all the way. He seems either (1) afraid of contact, or (2) afraid of getting his shot blocked. But, in so doing, he rarely gets to the line anymore and he's one of the best, if not the best, of our FT shooters. If he could get to the line 5 or 6 times a game, that's a bunch of free points.

    Will Barton looks like a keeper for sure, which means we probably won't go after Elliot Williams this summer. Other bench keepers are Leonard, Maynor, Claver, and Freeland. End of the line for Smitty, Babbitt, Sasha, and Jeffries? I'd like to see Jeffries stay as a backup 5 and a great locker veteran room presence.

    by dgpdx on 4/9/2013 11:40 PM
  13. Don; It seemed as if Karmen was auditioning for a job, I know he is somewhat confusing in his play, but he could give us a temporary inside threat and a little rim protection until we see what we have in Leonard. For the money he would demand we may be able to afford him; What do you think? Of Course with Utah with to many bigs and Big All being a FO he might be the one to go after, but I still think Utah would match any offer, but stranger things has happened.

    by Hg on 4/10/2013 6:17 AM
  14. Mike This is my story, not to take away from Barton's famous game, but here goes.

    Mavs was 26 pts ahead and was coasting to the finish. the players started jabbering about Dallas's possibilities of of a play-off hunt. It was brought up that now if we would get cranked up and beat LAL on Wed that would help. PDX player responded with, you are stomping us at a pace of 26pts and rising and you want us to do what to the Lakers? then in rebuttal, they say well what if we slack off on D and let you get back to being a respectable score to save embarrassment would you consider it. We agreed and now we have to finish the deal by doing you know what to the Lakers

    We can do it if the players can muster two or three more great charges, against the Lakers and OKC, and maybe GSW for the slacking they put on us. then we can go to the summer with something more to build on

    That is my story and I am not changing it☺☺☺

    by Hg on 4/10/2013 6:28 AM
  15. Hg: I wouldn't mind seeing Chris Kaman in a PDX uniform, but it's doubtful Dallas will unload him unless they've got a deal in place for a replacement. It would likely take a three-way deal for us to get him.

    Utah cannot possibly keep all their bigs and Big Al is the oldest. I think they want to play Kantar at center next season. They also may have to decide between their two dominant-type PFs, both deserve to start.

    by dgpdx on 4/10/2013 6:05 PM
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