Trail Blazers vs Mavericks Monday, 11/05/12 AT 05:30PM

Poor Fourth Quarter Dooms Trail Blazers In Dallas

11/05/12
  1. Written by: erikgundersen

    LaMarcus Aldridge led the way for the Trail Blazers with 20 points and seven rebounds but it was not enough as Portland ultimately fell to the hot-shooting Dallas Mavericks 114-91. OJ Mayo followed up his 30-point performance in Dallas’ previous game with 32 points tonight to lead the Mavs to victory. Wesley Matthews chipped in on offense as well scoring 20 points.

    The Trail Blazers collectively could not get anything to fall. They had a 23-2 edge on offensive rebounds but still lost the game as they shot 38% and a paltry 22% from the three-point line. Dallas shot 61% from the field and shot 50% from the three-point line.

    Portland played a very competitive game for three quarters even if the box score does not reflect it. It was not until the fourth quarter that the game got away from them even if they did not start well. Dallas started the game on a 6-0 run and Portland was cold. It did not help matters when Damian Lillard picked up his second foul with 8:43 left in the first. Ronnie Price came in and did a decent job but Portland still fell behind.

    Behind the efforts of LaMarcus Aldridge, the Trail Blazers were able to stay in striking distance. The Trail Blazers closed the first quarter on an 11-4 run to end the quarter only down by four points. OJ Mayo had 12 first quarter points and it seemed that most of his shots were extremely comfortable. It would be a recurring theme throughout the night.

    “Well, they’ve got a lot of good shooters. O.J. [Mayo] made seven threes in the game before, so it’s not like he can’t shoot,” said head coach Terry Stotts. “They’ve been shooting a lot of threes and they’re making threes. So, that’s kind of their personality right now. And they space the floor really well, they’ve got penetrators, and it’s an effective offense.”

    The second quarter inched the Trail Blazers closer. After having three games of little-to-no bench output and a five-point bench outing in Houston, the Trail Blazers reserved started to produce. The most impressive performance had to be the performance of Meyers Leonard. Leonard has steadily been improving in every game. He still looks out of place at times but tonight he was a downright presence on defense and on the boards. In Leonard’s first run in the second quarter he collected seven rebounds and four points. Two of those came on a beautiful pick-and-roll when Damian Lillard found a flying Leonard for a thunderous alley-oop slam. Leonard helped the Trail Blazers get an 8-1 lead on the offensive boards at halftime. Ronnie Price was also effective off the bench during that stint and ended the half on a high not with a driving lay-up to make Dallas’ lead only two heading into the intermission. Leonard led the Portland bench with six points and nine rebounds while Price had four of Portland’s 17 bench points.

    Portland had been shooting poorly but by attacking the offensive glass and only having two turnovers, they were right in the thick of things heading into the third quarter.

    Things started off cold for both teams as the second half began. However, it was Mayo again getting loose that kick-started the scoring. Mayo helped push the Mavs to an 8-2 run in the first three minutes of the third quarter. That run forced Stotts to call a timeout. Nicolas Batum had been more or less quiet but after the timeout he took his game up a notch to give Portland energy to make a run right back at the Mavericks. After Stotts’ timeout, Portland went on a 9-2 run to get the game back within reach.. Batum started hitting the boards harder and his energy was a welcome addition to Matthews and Aldridge. Aldridge started to get doubled a lot more in the third quarter. The help came from Vince Carter who left his man, Sasha Pavlovic, all alone for several possessions in a row. Batum’s third quarter was highlighted by a thunderous one-handed dunk on Dallas’ Chris Kaman. Batum finished with 14, five rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block. Despite the great third quarter run, Portland still could find no answer for Mayo. He added 10 points in the third quarter to his 18 from the first half and he would eventually finish with 32 points on 12 of 18 shooting including six of eight from deep.

    Damian Lillard had gotten off to another slow start. He only had 10 points and had been shooting poorly. He was finding open teammates but the open shots did not go, which hurt him in the assist column. However, the assist column cannot be a reflection of his playmaking ability on this night. Lillard also only had one turnover on the night. Shots that had been falling just simply did not in Dallas.  He started off the quarter well by going to the foul line and finding Joel Freeland on a pick-and-pop for an open jumper. But just when Rip City had hope Lillard was going to give them another late-game treat, Dallas threw everything at the rookie.

    “He missed some open looks that he’s been making. He saw some pick-and-roll defense. They [Mavs] were very aggressive in the second half; blitzing and trying to take the ball out of his hands,” said Stotts about Dallas’s defense on Lillard. “And we anticipated them doing it. We didn’t have necessarily enough time to prepare for it.”

    The ensuing scrambles to the rim did not work out in the Trail Blazers favor as they were sloppy with the ball and the two rookies, Leonard and Freeland, looked very much the part, getting stripped by players smaller and not as strong. It wasn’t just the rookie bigs that struggled taking care of the ball. After having only two turnovers in the first half, Portland had 11 in the second half. Stotts made the call to bring back the starting frontcourt as things were still within reach for Portland to get the win.

    However, despite the re-entry of Aldridge and Hickson, the iron continued to be unkind for the Trail Blazers. It also didn’t help that Dallas was getting into the interior and seemingly making everything. The Mavericks scored 54 points in the paint compared to 40 for the Trail Blazers.  It seemed that on every possession Portland had a chance to cut the lead back into manageable range, they would get open shots that did not fall. It was a particularly rough night for Lillard shooting-wise. Lillard went two for thirteen on the night, one of eight from beyond the three-point line and missed all three of his field goal attempts in the final period. He did his damage at the line, going eight for eight from there.

    Stotts talked about how the Trail Blazers will need to make adjustments as he thinks that other teams will try to employ the same type of pick-and-roll defense that the Mavericks did against Lillard. He emphasized making sure Lillard knows his options and that those options will have to make good “basketball plays” to succeed against that type of pick-and-roll defense.

    JJ Hickson also had a rough night from the field, going three of 10 for seven points.  Hickson did however finish with 11 rebounds, his fourth game in a row of double-digit rebounds.

    Up next, the Trail Blazers will have another tough defensive task against a deep and offensively talented Los Angeles Clippers team on Thursday. Hopefully they can turn around their shooting woes as a national television audience will be tuning in. That game is scheduled to tip-off at 7:30 PM and will air on TNT and can be heard on 1190 KEX and 102.3 FM.

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