DALLAS — The Portland Trail Blazers rallied from a 30-point first half deficit, held a seven-point lead in in the fourth quarter only to be outscored 11-0 in the final four minutes and 24 second of the game to fall 103-98 to the Mavericks Friday night in Dallas.
With the loss, the Trail Blazers fall to 42-20 on the season and 18-12 on the road. They now sit in fifth place in the Western Conference standings, four gamers back from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Mavericks got into the bonus in the early stages of the fourth and scored 13 of their 28 points at the line to get the win.
“Disappointed with our start – obviously getting down 30 on the road is not what you want,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “But I was proud of the way we competed and we were able to take the lead. We weren’t able to finish a few shots at the basket down the stretch. Dallas being in the bonus for most of the fourth quarter really affected the game in the fourth quarter. And that’s about it.”
Portland got off to easily their worst start of the season, shooting 21 percent from the field and turning the ball over six times to end the first 12 minutes with just 10 points.
Portland’s abysmal offensive production was just one side of a hideous first-quarter coin, with the Mavericks shooting 55 percent form the field and 50 percent from three to put up 33 points behind 15 from Dallas point guard Jose Calderon.
The Trail Blazers weren’t much better defensively in the second quarter, though they did improve to 50 percent shooting from the field to outscore Dallas 28-24. Thomas Robinson, playing for the first time since spraining the patella tendon in his left knee in Portland’s victory in Denver on Feb. 25, provided a much needed infusion of energy in the second, scoring nine points and pulling down eight rebounds while playing all 12 minutes in the quarter.
“We needed energy and he came in in the second quarter and he gave us a spark,” said Stotts of Robinson’s performance. “He did the same thing in the second half. It was good to see because he had been out for a while, but he has the ability to provide energy to the game and that’s what he did.”
But with so much damage already done in the first quarter, Portland trailed 57-38 at the halftime intermission.
But as bad as they were in the first quarter, Portland was just as good or better in the third. The Trail Blazers outscored the Mavericks 26-8 in the seven and a half minutes of the third quarter to pull to within 65-64. Roughly two minutes later, Portland would take their first lead of the night thanks to a offensive rebound and putback by LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 18 of his game-high 30 points in the third.
“That was my first time really having my rhythm (since missing five games with a groin injury),” said Aldridge of his third-quarter performance. “Really feeling like myself again, making shots and just making good moves again.”
Portland would outscore Dallas 36-18 in the third, but still trailed 75-74 going into the fourth quarter, highlighting just how deep of a hole the visitors dug for themselves in the first half.
“I thought we were very aggressive defensively,” said Stotts of what sparked his team’s comeback. “LA got on a roll. When you get stops, and are able to play and get in transition you’re able to change the momentum of the game. And we did it at the defensive end more than anything, but as I said LA. was – I don’t know how many he had in the quarter, but he was very effective with scoring the ball.”
It looked for a moment like the Trail Blazers might run away with the game in the fourth quarter after starting out on a 11-3 run to take a seven-point lead, their largest of the night, with 9:33 to play in regulation. But Portland was also called for five fouls in less than three minutes in the fourth, putting Dallas in the bonus for the almost the entire quarter. The Mavericks would go on to shoot 16 free throws in the fourth to just four for the Trail Blazers.
“I don’t know how you can overcome that,” said Wesley Matthews, who had a great game in his own right with with 26 points and six rebounds. “We got into the game with our aggression and we didn’t ratchet it up anymore, we kind of stayed at the same level. That’s how the game goes. The refs call what they see and we’ve got to adjust and we still gave ourselves a chance to win it.”
Even with Mavericks making seemingly endless trips to the line in the fourth, the Trail Blazers managed to hold a slight lead late into the fourth quarter. Monta Ellis converted a layup at the rim to tied the game at 98-98, after which both teams traded turnovers and misses for the next minute and a half of the game.
With 34 seconds to play, Aldridge would miss a desperation three with the clock winding down with Mavericks guard Devin Harris corralling the rebound. Harris drove full court into the paint before colliding with Damian Lillard, who trying to get in position to take a charge. But it was Lillard who was called for a foul as Harris’ shot attempt found the mark. Harris converted the three-point play to put Dallas up three with 24 seconds to play.
“He busted my mouth open,” said Lillard of his collision with Harris. “I knew that I wasn’t all the way in front of him but I figured since he dipped his head into my face they would call an offensive foul. But they called it the other way and that is something we had to live with. We still had a couple opportunities after that that we didn’t take advantage of.”
Those opportunities would include Ellis missing two free throws with 17 seconds to play and Portland still down three, but Vince Carter beat Aldridge out for the rebound. Aldridge would be forced to foul Carter, with the veteran wing hitting both free throws, effectively ending the game with 16 seconds to play.
“Being right there and not taking care of business down the stretch,” said Aldridge of what was the most frustrating part of Firday night’s loss. “I had some big miscues down the stretch. I missed some shots down the stretch. Fighting all the way back and being up and having an opportunity to win and not taking care of business.”
Next up, the Trail Blazers head to Houston to face the Rockets on Sunday in the second game of a difficult five-game road trip.
“From here on out, we’re going to have a lot of these game like this,” said Stotts. “Dallas made no secret: this was a must win for them and they were approaching it like that. You go down the line, we’re going to be in a lot of situations like this. We know what we’re capable of doing but it’s going to be a dogfight every night.”
Tipoff for that game is scheduled for 4 PM on KGW Channel 8 and 620 AM.
It’s summer time in Portland (or at least, it’s supposed to be), which means there’s no lack of street fairs, farmers markets, beerfests and art walks to attend. Anyone who frequents such events knows how hard it can be to get from Point A to Point B when there’s thousands of people in between.
But Damian Lillard has you covered. In a new adidas short entitled “Creating Clutch,” the 6-3 point guard out of Weber State traverses a busy street market in China (wearing the “PDX Carpet” colorway of the D Lillard 2, if I’m not mistaken) using an array of moves that you can incorporate into your own crowd-surfing…
In “Creating Clutch,” Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard shows us there is no such thing as downtime if you want to be one of the best clutch players in the NBA. A crowded street market in China during his recent Summer tour became his court, the ultimate opportunity to test his creativity and put his skills to the test.
With Portland’s foray into free agency now complete, Joe Freeman, he of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, and I, Casey Holdahl of ForwardCenter.net/TrailBlazers.com, hit the Moda Center studio to record another edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…
In this almost all Twitter-submitted questions edition, we discuss the signings of Evan Turner, Festus Ezeli and Meyers Leonard, the decision to match the offer the Brooklyn Nets extended to Allen Crabbe, how the additions and returns could change lineups going forward and the notion that the Trail Blazers need to make a trade. There’s also some hot Pokemon Go and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” talk to start the show, so you might want prepare yourself to fast-forward through the first few minutes.
UPDATE: The team has officially announced that they have matched the Nets’ offer sheet to Allen Crabbe, though a “formal announcement” and Crabbe actually signing the contract will not occur until later in the week.
After finishing up their pursuit of new free agents, the Trail Blazers have wasted little time in turning their attention to the free agents on their own roster. After reportedly signing restricted free agent power forward Meyers Leonard to a four-year deal, the Trail Blazers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, have matched the four-year, $75 million offer sheet the Brooklyn Nets tendered to third-year guard/forward Allen Crabbe, ensuring that the former Cal Bear will be back in Portland next season…
The Portland Trail Blazers have matched Allen Crabbe’s four-year, $75M offer sheet with Brooklyn, league source tells @TheVertical.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 10, 2016
Nets bid on Crabbe has been thwarted — and Crabbe returns to Blazers on four-year, $75M contract. Now, Nets wait on Tyler Johnson sheet.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 10, 2016
The message out of Portland ownership and management is clear: Blazers trying to win this year and beyond — loading up on this roster.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 10, 2016
As is often the case when it comes to restricted free agents, the Nets offer to Crabbe, who has averaged 7.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game through three season, was considerably larger than many assumed the 6-6 wing would receive in an effort to discourage the Trail Blazers from matching. And after the Trail Blazers signed free agent guard/forward Evan Turner to a four-year deal, some assumed that combined with the size of the Nets offer might result in Trail Blazers letting Crabbe walk.
But that would not be the case. Crabbe has been a favorite of the front office and coaching staff since the team acquired former Pac-12 Player of the Year via trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2012 Draft. And though he played sparingly in his first two seasons, he saw his minutes increase dramatically in 2015-16, as he appeared in 81 games and responded with averages of 10.8 points on 44 percent shooting and 39 percent shooting from three, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists while serving as one of the team’s best perimeter defenders.
There were rumors that outside of the money and years, Crabbe, who has typically come off the bench for the Trail Blazers, was intrigued by the opportunity to start and play a larger role with the Nets. But for his part, Crabbe seemed more than satisfied that he would be returning to Portland…
— Allen Crabbe (@allencrabbe) July 10, 2016
With Crabbe now signed, forward Maurice Harkless is the last Blazer still available on the free agent market. Like Crabbe, Harkless is a restricted free agent, which gives the Trail Blazers the right to match any offer he receives from another team. It is also possible for the Trail Blazers to sign Harkless even if he doesn’t receive an offer sheet from another team, as they have reportedly did Sunday with restricted free agent power forward Meyers Leonard.