The Trail Blazers, who hadn’t lost a game all season when leading after three quarters, took a 14-point lead into the final period Sunday afternoon in Dallas.
And then the Blazers held the Mavericks to 9-21 shooting in the final 12 minutes.
A win, right?
Nope. Portland made only three of its 16 shots in the fourth (0-6 from three), went more than 10 minutes without a basket, turned the ball over seven times (for 12 points) and took one of its most agonizing losses of the season.
And was outscored 24-9 in the final quarter.
And all this after Damian Lillard appeared to have single-handedly won the Blazers the game in the latter part of the third quarter.
Lillard completely took over the game, hitting eight straight shots, to push his team from a tied game into a 14-point lead. He scored 21 in the third quarter, hitting eight of 10 shots.
But after the game he was very upset about his drive to the basket on his team’s final possession. The Blazers were behind by a point and Lillard drove from the left wing toward the basket and ran into some heavy traffic. And he was fuming after the game.
“On the last play I got fouled two times,” he said. “I went behind the back and when I went behind the back, he reached across my body and pulled my right shoulder with his left arm.
“They didn’t call that.
“And then the foul that Zach had been getting called for all night – the dude jumped forward right into me. It’s the same call.
“But it should never have come down to that.”
The Mavericks used 6-8 Dorian Finney-Smith on Lillard late in the game and his length was a plus.
“It is just a move that you hope to be able to make with a guy like Finney-Smith,” Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle said. “I think it is difficult to ask a guy like that to guard him the entire game. In this case we went to it late.
“He is a little bigger than our point guards, but Lillard is a great player. He is an All-Star, and one of these years he will be a top MVP candidate, he is that good.
“But, as a team we did a great job in the last six minutes to get the win.”
Portland was feasting in the paint – a whopping 52 points over the first three quarters – but settled for just six in the fourth quarter. And the Blazers had 23 assists over the first three quarters and had only ONE in the fourth.
The ball stopped moving, Jusuf Nurkic took some soft fouls and the Blazer offense completely stalled.
It was an embarrassing loss to a team that traded four of its starters prior to the deadline and had no business beating a good NBA team.