DALLAS -- Portland entered Sunday’s matinee game against Dallas with a 33-21 record including a 33-0 record when leading after three quarters.
Sunday evening the Trail Blazers flew to Oklahoma City heading with that streak broken after holding a lead over the Mavericks heading into the fourth quarter, 92-78 but coming up with a loss.
It was a game of runs in Dallas and in the end the Mavericks got the last say. The Mavs completed the comeback with a 102-101 win.
After Damian Lillard had ignited the Blazers offense in the third quarter with 21 points, the fourth quarter offense was hard to come by.
“Obviously, offensively we struggled in the fourth quarter. Just some missed opportunities, some turnovers, some poor decisions and you’ve got to give credit to Dallas – they played with a lot of energy, they never quit, they stayed in it… and they deserved to win,” Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said.
Yes, it was a fourth quarter collapse and Coach Stotts, as well as the players admit that they should’ve never let the Mavericks back in the game and should have not let it come down to the final possession.
“It shouldn’t have came down to that… Period,” Lillard said.
THE NO CALL
That final possession turned into a controversial subject on social media and a big subject in the Blazers’ locker room.
Mavericks small forward Dorian Finney-Smith, who stands at 6-8, had the task of guarding Lillard down the stretch and on the final possession.
Lillard took Finney-Smith to the hoop and there could’ve been a foul called on Finney-Smith for grabbing Lillard’s shoulder, but there was also a second potential foul when Maximilian Kleber came to help and challenged Lillard at the rim.
The second possible foul looked a lot similar to a foul that was called on Blazers backup center Zach Collins earlier in the game.
“On the last play I got fouled two times… When I went behind the back, he reached across my right shoulder and pulled my shoulder with his left arm, they didn’t call that. And then, the call that Zach had been getting called for all night, the dude jumped forward right into me, it’s the same call, but it should’ve never come down to that,” Lillard said in the locker room.
Lillard finished with 30 points and five assists in the loss.
Even though Lillard’s running mate CJ McCollum called the game a “terrible loss” and it was a game they should’ve won, he also echoed Lillard’s sentiments on the no-call in the final seconds of the game.
“The refs are inconsistent with that A to B call. On Zach it’s a foul every time, McCollum said with a straight face. “But when other guys do it, it’s hard to kind of tell if they’re moving or not, but at the end of the game, they’re not going to call a foul… Even if he gets hit, they’re not going to call a foul. I thought he made a good move. I thought he should’ve stopped and popped.”
DON'T BLAME THE REFS
Make no mistake the Blazers are not saying that because the officials did not blow their whistle that’s why they lost.
There were many factors that went into this game, just ask McCollum.
“I don’t think we scored for like eight, nine minutes, so that didn’t help us in terms of offensive efficiency. I had a turnover or two in the fourth quarter that hurt us. Every possession is crucial. I think we’ve just got to do a better job of generating quality shots on offense in the fourth quarter,” McCollum said.
And for Lillard, this looked like it could’ve been one of the more frustrating losses for him this season after talking with him in the locker room.
Lillard ended his postgame interview with this:
“If we let one like this get away from us, that should send a message to us.”
The Blazers will visit Oklahoma City on Monday night. It will be a tough test, but if the Blazers got the message it should be a competitive game against a Thunder team who has now won 10 of its last 11.