Dame Awakens, Puts Mavs to Sleep

The Dallas Mavericks suffered their first loss of the season Sunday night at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers after star point guard Damian Lillard scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half, including the game winning layup.

The Mavericks got out to a hot start, scoring over 70 points in the first half for the second consecutive game, but cold shooting in the second half cost the Mavs in the end.

For the third consecutive game to open the 2019-20 NBA season, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle rolled out a different starting lineup. Delon Wright was inserted back into the starting lineup after an impressive showing Friday night against the Pelicans. He replaced Courtney Lee, joining Luka Doncic, Jalen Brunson, Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber. Portland starters were Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Rodney Hood, Zach Collins and Hassan Whiteside.

Porzingis controlled the opening tip and immediately got the Mavs on the board with an and-one turnaround jumper over Zach Collins. The hot start continued and Portland coach Terry Stotts called a timeout with his team down 17-7 with 8:17 remaining in the first quarter. Maxi Kleber had 8 of the first 17 points for the Mavs, including two three-pointers.

Portland followed the timeout with 8 straight points, cutting the Dallas lead to 17-15 and forcing Rick Carlisle to call a timeout.

The game was tied at 25 before the Mavericks went on a 15-0 run to close the quarter up 40-25.

Porzingis hit a trio of treys early in the second quarter, but Carlisle called another timeout when the Blazers cut the Mavs lead to 51-40 with 8:07 remaining in the first half. 7 more Blazer points cut the Mavs lead down to 4.

A Dorian Finney-Smith three-pointer ended a Mavs drought of six straight missed field goals, and Delon Wright immediately followed with a three of his own, putting the Mavs back up 10, 57-47. The Mavs kept the pressure on Portland and carried a 71-59 lead into the break.

The Mavs shot 51 percent from the floor in the first half, with Portland shooting 50 percent. The Mavs out-rebounded the Blazers 24 to 17 and had 10 more assists as a team.

Porzingis led the Mavs with 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists in the first half. Kleber and Doncic had 14 points apiece.

Damian Lillard had only 2 points on 1-7 shooting, but teammates CJ McCollum and Rodney Hood picked up the slack with 24 and 16 points respectively.

Lillard started to look like himself, scoring the Blazers first 10 points of the third quarter. The first timeout of the half came with the Mavs up 84-77 with 6:33 remaining in the third quarter.

Doncic hit a three-pointer following the timeout, pushing the lead back to double digits, before a 6-0 Blazers run cut the lead to 87-83. The final minutes of the quarter were spent trading free throws as both teams were in the bonus. A Lillard free throw tied the game at 95 heading into the final quarter. Lillard had 19 points in the third quarter, hitting 6 of his 7 field goal attempts.

The Mavs regained the lead on a pair of Porzingis free throws early in the final frame, but a Kent Bazemore three gave the Blazers their first lead of the game, 98-97.  Porzingis immediately answered with a tip-in dunk to put the Mavs back on top.

The Blazers pushed out to a 107-101 lead with just under 8 minutes remaining in the game. On the Mavs next possession, Kent Bazemore fouled Seth Curry, putting the Mavs in the bonus for the final 7:34. Curry drilled both free throws.

After Finney-Smith hit 1 of 2 free throws, Curry deflected a pass into the hands of Jalen Brunson. Brunson then found Curry open for three at the other end. Curry hit the shot, tying the game at 107 with 6:41 left.

The Mavs quickly regained the lead, 109-107, on a Doncic layup. He was fouled in the act, but missed the free throw.

Porzingis checked back in the game with 5:08 remaining, joining Doncic, Curry, Finney-Smith, and Brunson. A pair of mid-range jumpers from Curry and a dunk from Porzingis gave the Mavs a 1 point lead.

Hassan Whiteside fouled Porzingis near the basket with 2:17 remaining, sending the latter to the foul line. Whiteside fouled out of the game on the play. Blazers starting power forward and backup center, Zach Collins, was in the locker room dealing with an injured shoulder. Mario Hezonja entered the game for Whiteside. Porzingis hit both free throws, giving him 30 points on the night and giving the Mavs the lead.

Lillard hit a go-ahead layup with 26.8 remaining, and Rick Carlisle called a timeout, down 120-119. Doncic missed a step-back three-point attempt following the timeout, but Finney-Smith grabbed the rebound and was fouled on a put-back attempt with 08.4 remaining. Terry Stotts used his coaches challenge, claiming Lillard got all ball.

The call was overturned, which led to a jump ball at mid-court. The tip went to Kent Bazemore, who was fouled with 05.5 left on the clock. Bazemore hit 1 of 2, and the Blazers led 121-119. With no timeouts remaining, Doncic pushed the ball up the court and found an open Tim Hardaway Jr., who barely missed a game winning three as time expired.

This was the Mavs first loss, but there were still positives to take away. Porzingis continues to look 100 percent healthy. He finished with 32 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks. Doncic contributed 29, 12, and 9, albeit on inefficient shooting.

The Mavs will now travel to Denver to take on the 2-0 Nuggets Tuesday night at the Pepsi Center.

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