Sunday, Feb. 14: Trail Blazers 121, Mavericks 118
The skinny: Two great offensive teams that don't always play great defense met up Sunday at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas — and Portland came out on top.
Damian Lillard scored 34 points and dished out 11 assists, and the Blazers executed offense down the stretch to score on four consecutive possessions as they beat Dallas 121-118 in the first of three consecutive road games. En route to the win, the Blazers had a tremendous, historic third quarter.
The Mavericks' Luka Doncic had 44 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, but he missed a wide-open 3-point shot on an inbounds play with 6.9 seconds left. It was the only blemish on late-minute offensive execution for the teams.
Portland then inbounded the ball and ran out the clock.
Players from both teams heartily congratulated each other after the game in a fine display of sportsmanship, and perhaps knowing they had put on a pretty good display of offensive basketball.
Portland has won six of its past seven games, and four in a row.
Portland burst out to a double-digit first-quarter lead again, as five different players hit 3-pointers and Dallas went 0 of 8 from beyond the arc.
Led by Doncic, who hit three consecutive 3-pointers late and scored 24 first-half points, the Mavericks led 61-58 at halftime. Portland had nine first-half turnovers.
Then came the third quarter. Portland made 15 of 21 shots (71%) and scored 45 points, tying the franchise record for points in a third quarter. Portland led 103-91 going into the fourth quarter.
But, led by Doncic, the Mavericks (13-15) wouldn't go away quietly. A 12-0 run cut their deficit to 112-111.
The Blazers (16-10) wouldn't trail down the stretch, but Dorian Finney-Smith's 3-pointer off a Doncic drive tied it for Dallas at 116-116. On the next possession, Lillard stepped back for a vintage 3-pointer to give Portland the lead for good with 32.8 seconds left.
On the next possession, Carmelo Anthony found Derrick Jones Jr. for an open layup, before Doncic's miss.
Six players scored in double figures for Portland, which went 18 of 40 from 3-point land. The Blazers shot .529 to Dallas' .494.
Balanced scoring: Gary Trent Jr. had 17 points, Anthony and Robert Covington 15 each, Enes Kanter 14 and Anfernee Simons 12.
Covington, continuing to shoot the ball better, went 4-for-4 on 3-pointers.
Hood out: Rodney Hood (foot) sat out the game.
Little sighting: Nassir Little, getting early minutes, was one of the five players to hit 3-pointers in the first quarter.
Lillard moments: Lillard had an 0-for-2 trip at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. He's shooting 94 percent from the free-throw line.
He also received a technical foul in the second quarter for an official's no-call on a drive to the basket. Lillard was aggressive going to the basket in the first half, going 5 of 16 from the field for only 11 points.
Quotable: The Trail Blazers passed on a pretty telling post-game quote, via Twitter.
"I see myself as the top of the league, I'm one of the best players in the league," Lillard said. "The way our team is playing given our circumstances makes it even more obvious to me."
He's right. One would think Lillard should be more in the MVP discussion.
Quotable 2: "Everybody is contributing and doing what they do well, whether scoring or defending," coach Terry Stotts said.
Next up: The Blazers play at Oklahoma City, 5 p.m. Tuesday.
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