Final: Mavs 115, Blazers 109
Behind the Box Score
The Mavs have been getting off to impressive defensive starts lately, and tonight they limited the Blazers to only 22 points in the opening frame. It marked the fifth time in the club’s last six games that the defense allowed 22 points or fewer in the first quarter.
That’s a center who’s nearly a foot taller than Smith, and the rookie soars right past him like he’s not even there. That was one of Smith’s eight rebounds tonight. (He added 18 points and eight assists, as well, flirting with his second triple-double.) The second play came earlier in the game, when Damian Lillard drew a foul on the perimeter. After the whistle, Lillard pulled up for a jumper just to find some rhythm. As is kind of customary around the league, Smith sailed in to swat the shot, only he had to get up pretty darn high to get there. Normally we see big men block it, not a point guard. And then something else amazing happened.
That three-second exchange counted for nothing and will never show up on a box score, but it showed you exactly why none of us will ever play in the NBA. Those guys are just messing around and one is jumping four feet in the air to block a shot, while the other responds by throwing a 30-foot rainbow in the air and catching nothing but nylon. It’s little stuff like that about the NBA that makes it even greater.
Barea got the start tonight and put up 15 points and five assists in just 21 minutes. He didn’t look like a guy who hadn’t played in a week.
The Mavs (24-54) will play the Orlando Magic (22-54) on Wednesday at Amway Center at 6 p.m. Central.