The Dallas Mavericks demolished the Portland Trail Blazers 128-78 Friday night in Dallas, as the Mavericks secured their 51st win of the season, the most in a season since 2011.
This was never expected to be close and thankfully it never was. Portland is in the process of an epic tank job and in the last two weeks, according to stats-site Cleaning the Glass, the Trail Blazers had a minus-16.5 net rating. That is really hard to do!
Pleasingly, the only drama in this game was wondering how much the Mavericks would win by. Dallas jumped out to a 20 point lead earlier in the first quarter and never relented. Then Luka Doncic scored 25 points in the third quarter and the regulars rested for the entire fourth. A perfect night that keeps the Mavericks in the race for the three seed. Doncic led all scorers with 39 points and seven made three pointers.
Here are some thoughts.
Luka have it all
Doncic scored a game-high 39 points on 12-of-21 shooting, including 7-of-14 from three. He also got to the free throw line 11 times and had 11 rebounds and seven assists. Basically, Doncic showed off the entire game against the hapless Blazers.
There were the step-back threes, of course. There were the intoxicating dribble moves, the silky drives to the rim, and the perfect passes. To cap off his night, he scored 25 points in the third quarter, just three shy of tying his personal best for points in a quarter.
At times in the past, Doncic struggled in games against lesser opponents. It felt like if it wasn’t a prime-time team or a national TV spotlight, Doncic would ease off the gas a little. It’s been refreshing to see Doncic erase that thought this season and this game was just more proof. Doncic was incredible and he put away a bad team early. Good Friday night.
Dwight Powell is good and has always been good
A very handsome Mavericks writer has written in the past that Dwight Powell, much-maligned by a lot of the Mavericks fan base, is good. He’s been good for years, this handsome blogger would argue. Despite his shortcomings, Powell has been an elite rim-runner for the past five years and provided plenty of value to the Mavericks.
Powell has been doing good Powell things once again this season, shooting almost 77 percent from the restricted area, scoring 1.44 points per possession as the roll man in the pick and roll. It’s been fun to see Powell regain form after that devastating Achilles injury, and see him make more defensive contributions thanks to coach Jason Kidd’s new defensive scheme.
Friday night was just another good Powell game — 18 points on a perfect 7-of-7 from the floor. Powell only had three rebounds, but he wasn’t needed on the boards tonight. He just sliced and diced the Portland defense, taking advantage of Doncic’s attention in the pick and roll and the Trail Blazers inexperienced big men. Hopefully Powell will get the credit he’s due from the fan base. He’s earned it.
OK, let’s talk about the Luka technical
Since this game was such a laugher, there isn’t that much to talk about — everyone that played, played well. Boban Marjanovic got some rare minutes and immediately started scoring points. All is good in Mavs land.
So unfortunately, a thing to take away from this game is that Doncic picked up his 16th technical during the break after the first quarter. It happened after he complained about a no-call at the end of the quarter, where Doncic attempted a half-court heave and the Trail Blazers defender not only hit Doncic on the shoulder, but tripped Doncic up a bit as well while Doncic heaved a half-court prayer that missed.
First things first: Doncic was crowded, probably twice! It’s understandable why he was mad, especially when you consider he got his legs tangled up which could have made the play worse than it needed to be. Doncic dealt with a nagging ankle injury in the first half of the season, I doubt he was happy about a defender getting up underneath him on a meaningless buzzer-beating heave while the Mavericks were up 36-13.
Still, it’s a little baffling that Doncic didn’t just brush it off. He spent some time on the court, clearly upset, but then had to go to Tony Brothers (a notoriously trigger-happy referee) and complain about the call. Even his teammates Dorian Finney-Smith and Frank Ntilikina held him back to try and prevent Doncic from getting the technical, but Doncic still persisted to get his word in. Doncic wasn’t aggressive or overtly-animated, but he was clearly ticked off. Brothers calling a technical foul there is laughable and hopefully the NBA rescinds it before the Mavericks season finale against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.
I just wish Doncic had a bit more composure to avoid the situation all together. It was a no-call on a half court heave while the Mavericks were up 36-13 — the play didn’t matter at all. It would have been nice to see Doncic laugh it off, but he didn’t. That isn’t defending the technical or the bafoonery of Tony Brothers, but Doncic has a rep. Whether that’s fair or not, he has to be a little smarter.
At the end of the day, it won’t matter. Either the technical will get rescinded and Doncic plays or the Mavericks will play the Spurs sans-Doncic and still likely be the favorites to win. There’s potentially some concern if Doncic misses the game and the Mavericks have an opportunity to move up to the third seed, but in the grand scheme of things, things are fine. The Mavericks have 51 wins! Holy cow, that’s awesome.
Here’s our latest episode of Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you’re unable to see the embed below, click here to be taken to the podcast directly. Or go to your favorite podcast app and search Mavs Moneyball Podcast.