Rapid Fire: Chippy Mavs Slip At Portland - And In The West Standings

Rapid Fire: Chippy Mavs Slip At Portland - And In The West Standings ...

1. Following a large overtime win over the Portland Trailblazers on Sunday, the Mavs were hosted by that same Blazers team on Wednesday. Only this time, the Blazers would be in the comfort of their own home at the Moda Center. Unfortunately for the Mavs, their "biggest game of the year'' turned into their most important loss of the year, as they fell to the Blazers 109 -103 on the road. 

“Right now, we’re disappointed,'' Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "Disappointed with the outcome, but not the effort.''

2. Salah Mejri got the start at center for the Mavs, coming off of the best game of his rookie campaign. Mejri would respond by finishing with 14 points and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes. It’s time to start wondering if Zaza’s days as a starter in Big D are over, especially with the way the 29-year-old Tunisian has begun to settle into his new role with the team. 

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3. Wes Matthews made his return to the Moda Center for the second time since departed Rip City this summer for Dallas. Say whatever you want about the way Matthews has played this season, but his fans love him, especially the ones in Portland. Wes obviously loves playing against his old team, as he scored 22 points on 53-percent shooting from the field. ... and out of respect for his old Portland fan base, kept the bow-and-arrow act in his pocket here.

4. The absence of Chandler Parsons is something that this team is going to have to adjust to moving forward, but that doesn’t mean that they cannot be successful without him on the floor. It will take multiple players to step up and fill the versatile void that his absence creates, but that’s exactly what the Mavs are paying Rick Carlisle to do. There is a finite amount of coaches in the NBA who have the ability to make those kinds of adjustments, and Carlisle is one of those guys. 

Meanwhile, Fish gets to the bottom of the conflicting reports on the seriousness of Parsons' knee problem here in Mavs Premium.

5. The first quarter ended with the Mavs trailing Portland by a score of 28-26. Salah Mejri and Wes Matthews led the way for the Mavs in scoring with six points each, and Maurice Harkless leading the Blazers with 10 points of his own. Deron Williams also contributed five assists without a single turnover in the opening quarter. 

6. The Mavs had a hard time taking care of the ball in the first half, committing 11 turnovers through the first two quarters. The Blazers like to run, so Dallas did an exceptional job of playing into the Portland’s hands in the first 24 minutes of action. 

The errors were "fueling their break,” Matthews said. “They’re a tough team. And when you give them possessions like that, it’s hard to get away from it.”

7. A sloppy first half by the Mavs ended with Portland on top 57-53. Wes Matthews finished the half as Dallas’s leading scorer with 14 points on five on nine shooting, while Ed Davis killed the Mavs with 16 points and six boards of his own. Damian Lillard also finished with 11 points and five assists in the half, after a much better performance in the second quarter. 

8. The Blazers are a much different team than they have been over the last few seasons after the departure of LaMarcus Aldridge and Wes Matthews. Coming into this game they sat 36-35 and held the sixth seed in the Western Conference Playoff race, well above what expected of them coming into this season. They’ve built a nice young core around their superstar with C.J. McCollum, former Mavs forward Aminu, and Harkless. Their future is bright if they continue to build around their talented youngsters.

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9. Speaking of Lillard, man, this guy is a stud. Coming into Wednesday night, Lillard was averaging 25.8 points and 6.9 assists per game, and is one of the best young point guards in the league. It’s hard not to like his game (especially after the way he knocked Houston out of the playoffs in agonizing fashion two years ago) with the effort and energy that he plays with on a nightly basis. Lillard would finish the night with 27 points, six boards and six assists. 

10. Outside of Matthews, the Mavs struggled from beyond the arc yet again in this game. Now that CP is down, the Mavs need to find a way to improve their shooting from downtown in a hurry. Wes cannot be the only player hitting bombs if this team wants to hold off their competition for a playoff spot. 

11. The third quarter wasn’t much better for Dallas, as they found themselves trailing 83-73 by the end of the period. Devin Harris provided a bit of a spark with some well timed defensive plays and a couple of nice shots, but over all the Mavs were run over in the quarter.

12. After a 40-point ‘Dirkie-esque’ performance by the Big German on Sunday, Dirk struggled a bit to get anything going on Wednesday. Despite a strong finish to the game (and his 21 points and nine boards), Dirk’s follow-up to his classic performance left a bit to be desired. However, there were far more problems for the Mavs in this game than Nowitzki’s slow start alone. Dirk did end up passing his good buddy Steve Nash in career three pointers made with 1,686, good for 15th all-time in NBA history. 

13. Aminu made a lot of energy plays down the stretch that gave Mavs fans so nostalgic feelings of his time last season the Dallas. That’s just what the guy does. Was he worth his contract? The jury is still out on that one, but he is certainly a player the Mavs would love to have pair with Wes Matthews on the wing right about now. 

14. Ultimately, it was just too-little-too-late for the Mavs, who, despite making a valiant push towards the end of the game, couldn’t do enough to catch the Blazers. This loss for the Mavs cannot be understated in the playoff picture, and with Golden State coming up on Friday night in Oakland, the Mavs are in a very tough spot moving forward. ... 1.5 games behind sixth-place Portland now and trying to hang on.

Stat(s) of the night: Turnovers. The Mavs were far too sloppy with the ball, turning it over 17 times with 21 assists. It’s a simple truth, but it’s hard to be successful when you don’t take care of the basketball in this league. 

Free-throw shooting. The Mavs shot just 11 free throws in the game to Portland’s 25. Pretty big disparity there, if you ask us. 

This game was over when... Deron Williams missed a straight-away three with about 30 seconds to go in the game. Damian Lillard was fouled and went on to ice the game at the line for Portland. Deron and Dame were involved in some feistiness, by the way, and D-Will joined Carlisle, Mejri and JJB in picking up T's here.

                           

Should have seen coming... Damian Lillard. This guy is a superstar, plain and simple. 

Couldn't see coming... Ed Davis and Mo Harkless. The duo combined for 30 points, and killed the Mavs for a good portion of this game. 

What's next: The Mavs head to the Bay Area and Oracle Arena to take on Steph Curry and the defending champion Golden State Warriors, who "Rolling-Stoned'' the Mavs 130-112 just under a week ago. ... in a game in which Dallas played about as well as it can. Oh, and by the way: We don't think there are roster moves coming for Dallas, especially because of the playoff-non-eligibility issue. But we do keep our eye out for the Mavs little brothers in Frisco. Here's the latest on the Texas Legends trying to finish strong with the help of a former Duke standout.

                       

The Final Word: "I liked the way we competed. We just couldn’t overcome some of the mistakes that we made.” - Dirk.


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