If you are curious about the evolution of NBA basketball, Thursday night’s game in Moda Center was for you.
Dallas’ 133-125 win over the Trail Blazers was the template for what analytics have done to the game.
These days, the smart guys have figured out that the shots that carry the most value are three-pointers, free throws and layups or dunks.
Thursday’s game tied the league record for most threes (43) made in a game. But the analytics go even deeper than that.
Dallas had 50 points in the paint, 15 free throws and scored 66 points on threes. In other words, that’s 131 of the Mavericks’ 133 points. Portland had 46 points in the paint, 63 points off threes and 12 free throws -- 121 of its 125 points.
So much for mid-range jump shots, huh?
“Never thought I’d see this many threes in a game,” said Carmelo Anthony, a veteran in his 17th NBA season. “But that’s the way it is.”
The Mavericks jumped out to an early lead in this one, thanks to a 45-point first quarter, and never looked back. Every time the Trail Blazers mounted some sort of rally, Dallas was able to counter by shredding the Portland defense for a shot near the basket, an offensive rebound or a wide-open three.
Damian Lillard followed up his 61-point game with another big one, getting 47, thanks to 8-15 shooting from the three-point line.
But Lillard was miffed after the game. And during the game. And after the game, he talked about it -- succinctly.
Lillard was assessed a technical foul by Ray Acosta with 13 seconds to go, while Lillard was on his way to the bench after being removed from the game.
“It’s just frustrating, man,” Lillard said. “I mean, it’s a fast game -- a tough game to call. But there was a play at the end of the game, four minutes to go and I go up for a reverse layup and guy just smacked me in the head.
“The whole game, I’m telling them, ‘They’re putting their hands in my chest. They’re pushing me in the back, they’re riding me. All the things we get whistled for, they’re doing them to me.
“They’re trying to stop me -- they’re being physical, they’re trying hard. Just look for the contact because it’s there.”
Lillard was asked what he said to draw the technical.
“Like I said, we were down 13, I was doing a reverse layup and the guy smacks me in the head, the referee is right there. And I asked him, ‘How do you not make that call?’ and he tells me, ‘We all agreed that you leaned into him.’
“That’s an insult, man. I leaned into him? He smacked me in the head. Come on, man, that’s frustrating as hell when somebody smacks you in the head and you get that kind of explanation.
“I went right up to him and said, ‘If you say you didn’t see it, that’s one thing. They say that all the time. But you can’t tell me ‘All three of us agree that you leaned into him and i’m doing a reverse layup. I don’t have time to lean back while I’m looking at the basket. Don’t insult me like that -- just say 'I didn’t see it.'”
Lillard’s game spoke for itself, regardless of the officiating. But Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle spoke plenty about Portland's star guard.
“I have one statement to make: Before the game I tried to pass a note to the locker room to tell Damian Lillard he had my All-Star vote, so he didn’t play the game,” Carlisle said. “Obviously, he didn’t get the note, but he had my vote before he went for 47 against us. What an amazing player. He’s virtually impossible to stop. He’s got an iron will. Obviously a great leader and when he’s on the floor they’re hard to beat, no matter what.”