The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Portland Trail Blazers at home Friday night by a score of 130-110. Luka Doncic led Dallas with 33 points, six rebounds, and nine assists. Dame Lilliard led the Blazers in defeat.
Dallas started the game looking rather sluggish, failing to get stops while Luka missed his first few attempts on the other end. The team seemed a bit disinterested, but Tim Hardaway Jr. came out of the gates on fire and kept the Mavericks afloat until they could find their offensive footing. A step-back three from Luka with 1.5 seconds left in the period made the score 32-31, Portland after one.
The second quarter featured Christian Wood and Doncic taking turns assaulting the Portland defense. Wood scored 15 points in the frame, showcasing every facet of his offensive game and helping the Mavs build a double-digit lead. After he exited for a breather, Doncic returned and rattled off 11 points of his own. Portland was able to close the gap a bit, thanks in large part to a parade to the free throw line by Damian Lillard, but a good close to the quarter let the Mavericks take a 72-63 lead into the locker room.
The Mavericks came out guns blazing in the third quarter, playing some of their best basketball in a long while and pushing the lead to as many as 28 points. Quite simply, it was their most impressive quarter of the season. They completely dominated the Trail Blazers and everyone who played contributed to that. For these 12 minutes, basketball was as fun as it’s been in 2022-2023. The Mavericks put up 110 (!!!) points through three frames and led 110-85 heading into the fourth.
Garbage time came early in the fourth, as Portland never deployed their starters again and the end-of-bench dudes came in before the period was half over. JaVale McGee, the human victory cigar, appeared and the Mavs cruised to a 20-point win. The starters got some rest in the fourth, which is huge since they play Cleveland again tomorrow night.
It was a fun night of basketball, and here’s what stood out:
Luka Doncic loves playing against Portland
Doncic came into tonight’s game averaging 30.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 7.9 assists on .498/.413/.762 shooting splits in his career against the Trail Blazers. He averages more points against Portland than every other non-Clippers team in the league. We know that Luka gets up for big games and big matchups, and something about going against Damian Lillard brings out the absolute best in him. Doncic was masterful tonight, putting up a casual 33/6/9 on great shooting in three quarters and controlling the pace of play all night long.
This Mavericks team needs Luka to set the tone to be successful and he did that tonight. Hopefully, taking the fourth quarter off helps him stay fresh and ready to do it again against Cleveland tomorrow.
The Mavericks are a different team when threes fall
It’s been said ad nauseam, but this Mavericks team is a completely different animal on both sides of the floor when they’re hitting shots. It sounds simple and obvious, but their defensive effort and energy is just so much more pronounced when guys are knocking down threes. Tonight, they shot 41.9 percent on 43 attempts and were especially hot in the third quarter. Not surprisingly, they held Portland to 22 points in the third and just 47 in the second half. Everything was clicking, and it would be nice to see this kind of effort more frequently.
Christian Wood had his best game as a Maverick
Maxi Kleber is going to be out for an extended period of time. As a result, the Mavericks have no choice but to lean into a more offensive mindset at the big man position and let Christian Wood cook. Tonight, we saw what that looks like when Wood is at the top of his game. He was absolutely sensational against Portland, putting up a monster double-double with 32 points and 12 rebounds on 11-of-17 shooting.
He took over in the second quarter and gave the Mavericks a big lead they would never look back from, and executed a brilliant two-man game in the third quarter alongside Luka Doncic. He did bad things to Jusuf Nurkic and the Blazers simply did not have an answer for him.
Wood is a polarizing player, and he’s definitely not a perfect fit with this roster, but he is incredibly gifted offensively and it’s fun to watch when he’s firing on all cylinders.
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