Trail Blazers vs Mavericks Sunday, 04/07/13 AT 06:00PM

Barton's Big Night Sparks Comeback, Portland Comes Up Short

04/07/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    The Portland Trail Blazers (33-44) fell to the Dallas Mavericks (38-39) by the final score of 96-91 despite a valiant comeback led by a career-high 22 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and three steals from Will Barton. The Trail Blazers trailed by as much as 26 but despite the comeback, it unfortunately ended with their eighth straight loss.

    In the 1980s the NBA had a campaign that centered around the phrase: The NBA it's fantastic! The first three quarters of tonight's Trail Blazers-Mavs game were anything but. Chris Kaman, not somebody many would deem an exciting player, was dominating the game. He led the Mavericks with 26 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks, getting everything deep in the pain.

    The Trail Blazers were down by 24 points at halftime and making matters worse, Wesley Matthews was already in the locker room after spraining his right ankle with 8:24 left in the first half.

    The Trail Blazers looked dead in the water as they appeared to be hitting rock bottom with one of their worst first halves of the season. However, in an otherwise meaningless and yawn worthy Sunday evening, Portland was treated to a "Thrilling night," thanks to none other than Will "The Thrill" Barton.

    Barton's activity helped the Trail Blazers go on a 16-4 run to close the first half against Houston and Stotts said before tonight's game that it was one of Will's "more consistent games," adding that he thought "the time he was on the court was pretty positive."

    After tonight's game where Barton dominated the second half, Stotts was a little less reserved.

    "Will Barton had a terrific game and pretty much was the catalyst for how we played in the second half."

    After JJ Hickson got a put-back dunk, the next three lines of the play-by-play start with "Barton, Barton, Barton," and it was pretty much that way for the whole second half.

    He started by getting on the glass and also using his long arms to get into the passing lanes, which Barton said helped him on the offensive end. Barton finished with three steals on the night in addition to his double-double with six assists.

    "Yeah, that's my kind of game, getting in those passing lanes and getting out running in transition. That's when I'm at my best. So, I try to key in on those situations and try to take full advantage of them."

    "It wasn't just me," Barton said when he first addressed the media and he pointed out that the Trail Blazers were disappointed in their own performance and that the team's leaders like Lillard and Aldridge said that they couldn't keep getting blown out.

    In the fourth quarter, the Trail Blazers went on a 12-0 run with Eric Maynor (8 points, six assists) and Luke Babbitt (10 points, six rebounds) contributing. But, it was Will who stole the show during the run with back-to-back dunks including a beautiful 180 dunk off a lob from Maynor.

    Barton also showed his passing skills tonight and Aldridge says that he likes how Barton finds him. Something that Barton has been quick to point out many times this season.

    "I do, yeah," said Aldridge about Barton getting him the ball. "The one example was when I had Collison on me and I was right by the rim and I was like 'throw it' and he just threw I was like, 'OK cool.' I think that was my easiest basket all night. I think he has this pace about the game. He knows the right plays, the place to be. I think he makes the right reads, he plays well."

    Aldridge and JJ Hickson, who can always be seen bantering with Barton about something, both made sure the media were waiting around Barton's locker after the game. JJ said he was happy for Will what seemed like three or four times while Barton fielded questions from the media scrum.

    "I'm happy man, I see Will working all the time. He hasn't been getting extended minutes all season and you know, that's a great sign that a guy can come in that hasn't been getting extended minutes and come in and have the game he had. I think that's the definition of a true pro is always being ready and he was ready tonight when his number got called."

    Barton told reporters before the game that he had a good feeling about the game. His game on Friday indicated as such and on Saturday he was the practice MVP.  

    The Trail Blazers lost their eighth straight and the Mavericks pulled one game closer to .500. But, on a night devoid of real meaning for either team, the Rose Garden and an NBATV audience were treated to a full night of The Will Barton Experience.

    With Wesley Matthews injured, who left the locker room on crutches and a boot saying the pain was something "he'd never felt before," Barton will likely continue to get extended minutes and hopefully for the Trail Blazers and Rip City, continue to be a lighting rod of energy as the season drifts off into the night.

    The Trail Blazers don't play again until Wednesday when they face the Los Angeles Lakers (40-36), who are fighting for their playoff lives. Tip-off will be at 7PM at the Rose Garden and it will be shown on CSNNW.



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