Final: Mavs 96, Trail Blazers 95
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
The Mavs’ offense got off to a spectacular start, scoring 30 points in the first quarter. It was just the second time all season Dallas has reached the 30-point plateau in the opening frame, with the other coming just two nights ago at Denver. To no one’s surprise, that also coincides with J.J. Barea’s return to the lineup, which means that Dallas can now have a very good point guard on the floor at all times, between him and Deron Williams. Leading the charge was Dwight Powell, who took seven free throw attempts in the opening stanza alone. The Mavs scored 1.304 PPP in the first frame.
Not to be outdone, the Mavs’ second quarter was even better, as Dallas scored 1.391 points per possession in the frame to take a 62-38 lead at the break. It was Dallas’ largest halftime lead since Jan. 31, 2015 at Orlando, when the Mavericks led by 25 points. The club didn’t necessarily shoot the ball exceptionally well — just 50 percent from the field and 42.9 from deep — but the Mavericks scored 15 points off Blazers turnovers and attempted 17 free throws, which is more than they’d attempted in four of their previous six games entirely.
Deron Williams has been on some kind of roll lately. Tonight was his sixth straight game scoring at least 15 points after a period of rocky shooting following his return from injury. He was money in the first half for the Mavs, spearheading the strong offensive effort in the first half. The biggest thing that stands out when watching him play is he’s just so patient on the ball; the game looks like it’s moving in slow-motion to him. He even dribbles it slowly. That’s the sign of a true veteran at his position. He sees everything so well and still gets to his spot with ease, even at his age. It’s a point guard’s league, to be sure, and Williams has been big for the offense as of late.
Teams continue to switch point guards on to Harrison Barnes for some reason that I can’t understand. I mean, by all means, they should continue doing it, as it’s led to pretty serious success for the 24-year-old forward. Coming into tonight, Barnes had been scoring 1.033 points per possession in the post against single coverage, per Synergy Sports, and while there’s no way to track it easily, I would have to guess that number would climb up near 1.5 PPP against smaller 1s. Barnes is just too strong and athletic for smaller, slighter players to guard him anywhere near the basket. He scored twice easily over Damian Lillard on such plays in the first quarter, seemingly without breaking a sweat. If that’s something teams will continue to do, Dallas will happily exploit that size and strength advantage for as long as Barnes is a Maverick. For the record, Barnes also finally got to the free throw line, after attempting exactly ZERO in three of his previous four games. The fifth-year pro has been critical of his own low number of visits to the charity stripe, asserting he needs to do a better job of finding and selling contact. It worked tonight.
J.J. Barea played his second game back from injury tonight, scoring two points and dishing out four assists in nine minutes. He was only 1-of-7 from the field, but he made a huge impact on the flow and feel of the game with his play in the pick-and-roll, similar to how he played Monday in Denver. However, Barea unfortunately left the game for good in the first half with left Achilles soreness. We’ll see if that impacts his status for Friday’s game against the Clippers. Meanwhile, Dirk Nowitzki went through shootaround this morning and said he’ll practice on Thursday in Los Angeles before determining his status moving forward. Rick Carlisle said it’ll be a “gradual” return to action, with the eventual goal of ramping up his minutes to 20-25 minutes per game. Whether that process will begin on Friday or another day will be determined tomorrow or Friday.
The Mavs (8-21) play the Los Angeles Clippers (21-8) on Friday at the Staples Center at 9:30 p.m. Central.