Here are my 5 takeaways from the Dallas Mavericks’ 121-118 overtime loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday at the Moda Center:
1. LUKA WITH THE MIRACLE SHOT: OK, really Luka? Just in case you’ve been under a rock the past day or so, rookie Luka Doncic did something miraculous — again — that had the whole NBA world talking. With only 0.6 seconds remaining in the game and the Mavs trailing the Blazers by three points, Doncic received an inbounds pass from Jalen Brunson and launched a high-arching improbable 3-point shot right near Portland’s bench that somehow found its intended destination and sent the game into overtime. This kid is just full of dramatics.
2. BARNES ON ANOTHER 3-POINT BINGE: Harrison Barnes started this four-game road trip by making 5-of-8 3-pointers against the Denver Nuggets last Tuesday, and he ended it by making 5-of-8 3-pointers against the Blazers. While Barnes collected a season-high tying 30 points against Denver, the 27 points he scored against Portland were his fourth-highest scoring day of the season. Barnes has extended his shooting range so much that this was the sixth time this year that he’s made five 3-pointers in a game. By contrast, last year Barnes made seven 3-pointers in one game and five in two other games.
3. DEFENSE HAS TO IMPROVE: For the fourth time on this four-game road trip, the Mavs allowed an opponent to score at least 120 points. Denver started it by tallying 126 points against Dallas last Tuesday. That was followed by the Los Angeles Clippers (125), the Golden State Warriors (120) and the Blazers (121). Granted, the Mavs were going against some of the best teams the Western Conference has to offer on this road trip. If the playoffs started today, those four teams would be among the top six seeds out West.
4. OFFENSE HOLDING ITS OWN: No one ever accused the Mavs of not being able to score the basket. The 118 points they scored against the Blazers marked the eighth time this season they’ve scored this many points in a game. And it happened three times on this four-game road trip. The Mavs tallied 118 points last Tuesday against Denver and 121 points last Thursday against the LA Clippers in addition to the 118 points they totaled against the Blazers. The only time they failed to reach the 118-point barrier on this road trip was Saturday when they lost to the Warriors, 120-116.
5. NO CHRISTMAS CARDS FOR YOU: The NBA schedule-maker probably won’t be receiving any Christmas cards from the Mavs. That extremely difficult four-game road trip the Mavs just completed really tested their mettle and challenged them to no end. Especially since Denver has the league’s third-best record, the Warriors own the NBA’s fourth-best record, and the Clippers and Blazers are tied for the league’s ninth-best record. This is like the Grinch having the gall to actually show up and steal Christmas in a mighty big way.