The last eight match-ups between the Trail Blazers and Mavericks have been decided by single digits; and Tuesday was no different.
It was the Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic show early against the Blazers (Porzingis also had his way with Portland in the third quarter) after the duo sat out of the Mavericks win over the Jazz.
The Mavs stars looked well-rested and started off hot from deep. Porzingis led all scorers with 16 points at the end of the first quarter. But thanks to the Trail Blazers defensive effort in the final couple of possessions of the first quarter, Portland took a 38-31 lead after the first 12 minutes.
The Trail Blazers finished the final 2:09 of the first quarter on a 13-0 run.
Tuesday's battle quickly became a game of runs. The Blazers were once again led by Damian Lillard. Lillard showed off his quick first step against the Mavericks bigs which definitely helped with his success at the rim. At the break, Lillard had 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting.
After the Blazers started out slow in both the first and second quarter, they came on strong to finish out both quarters to take a 66-58 lead at halftime.
Gary Trent Jr. continued to bring the energy, particularly on the defensive end.
Trent Jr. also slowed down Luka Doncic with his aggressive defense on the All-Star point guard. Trent Jr. was inserted into the starting lineup to start the third quarter in order to keep the second-year player on Doncic.
Lillard is now the first Trail Blazer player to record back-to-back 50+ point games as he once again led Portland in scoring and tied his career-high with 61 points in 41-plus minutes of work. Lillard also recorded eight assists, five rebounds, and one steal.
Thanks to Lillard’s big-time performance and the Blazers ability to get stops when they needed them most, along with the Grizzlies loss to the Celtics earlier in the day, Portland now moves into sole possession of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference standings with one game to play.
Going to wait until after the Blazers game ends to update play-in projections, but as a reminder of what's at stake, Portland's chances of emerging as the 8th seed:— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) August 11, 2020
75% with a win today
16% with a loss today
Just a reminder, the first Western Conference play-in game will tip-off at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
Here are three quick takeaways from Portland's seventh seeding game from our NBC Sports NW team:
Dwight Jaynes, Insider:
It was all Damian Lillard with little help. He has carried them two games in a row. They are in the driver’s seat now
Everything looking good for the Trail Blazers…. other than now they have to play the dreaded third quarter— Dwight Jaynes (@dwightjaynes) August 11, 2020
Blazers better hope Luka and Kristaps don’t play in the second half.— Dwight Jaynes (@dwightjaynes) August 11, 2020
Jamie Hudson, Reporter
Damian Lillard was dialed in, to say the least. The Blazers also needed him to play 40+ minutes once again. Lillard notched 34 points by the midway point of the third quarter and finished with a career-high 61. Between Lillard’s tough buckets at the rim and his long-distance shots falling at 53.4 percent on the night (including a crazy this crazy 3-pointer), along with Carmelo Anthony going to work on smaller defenders down low, as well as, Gary Trent Jr.’s bulldog mentality, the Trail Blazers were able to get it done against the unicorn and the Mavs.
Mike Richman, Reporter
It truly is a pleasure to watch Damian Lillard. If you're asking 'Where would the Blazers be without him?,' the answer is out of the playoff picture.
[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon:]
Up Next: The Trail Blazers take the court Thursday at 6:00p.m. in Portland’s final seeding game against the Brooklyn Nets. Catch all the action on NBC Sports Northwest and stream the game on the MyTeams app.
Also, be sure to check back throughout the rest of the night and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles, and videos from the players!