The Portland Trail Blazers might not be the complete team, but just relying on their offense and especially the ability of LaMarcus Aldridge and whoever else steps up beside him (this time it was Nicolas Batum) is enough for them to be in shared lead of the Western conference, while also playing the most enjoyable brand of basketball the NBA has to offer this season.
Their latest accomplishment comes as part of their Texas tour, beating the Dallas Mavericks 127-111, handing the Mavs their worst home defeat of the season, while picking up a fifth consecutive win. Aldridge led the team scoring 30 points with another double double (12 rebounds) and accurate shooting (11-of-18 from the field) performance. Unlike the usual box score, it was Batum’s turn to prove he’s just as capable offensively as Lillard or Matthews, scoring 21 points. It’s his highest scoring game in over a month, which happened to be a 22-point performance in a loss to Dallas.
The Blazers scored 35 points in the first quarter, the 14th time in 2013-14 with 30 points or more in the first quarter. They had 104 points through three quarters, leading by 34 points. They’re averaging an NBA best 109.6 points per game, and their offense stands the test of efficiency as well, averaging 110.6 points per 100 possessions, also the best in the NBA.
I was really proud of the way our team played, especially on the heels of an emotional win in San Antonio. Our resolve, defensively, I thought was very good and got us into a position to have a large lead. We are just playing great basketball right now. Whenever guys guard the way they can, this team is good.
The Mavericks actually outscored the Blazers 41-23 in the long garbage time that was the fourth quarter, which pretty much tells how bad of a loss it actually was for them. Aldridge had a +40 during his 32 minutes on the floor. He was one of three Blazers players with a double-double; Robin Lopez scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds; Damian Lillard scored 14 points, adding 10 assists. One of the more embarrassing parts for Dallas in this loss is that the Blazers didn’t shoot lights out: They were 51.4% from the field and 34.6% from beyond the arc, which isn’t even close to special.
So where did they win the game? As Stotts mentioned, defense, and finding it easy to rebound and score points in the paint. Portland won the rebounding battle 55-30, which included grabbing 14 offensive rebounds and scoring 22 second-chance points. They also scored 62 points in the paint, as the Mavs defense just didn’t show up, while their offense played selfishly and handled the Blazers’ trapping and enthusiasm very badly.
The first three quarters were beyond embarrassing. We were poor on offense, too. We weren’t playing together. We weren’t helping each other. You do that against a high-level quality team like Portland, they’re going to make you pay a heavy price.
We keep asking questions of this Blazers team and they keep providing positive answers. As we mentioned before – they’ll be doubted by many until they win a postseason series which hasn’t happened since 2000. However, the regular season does mean something, and playing this well for so long surely means there’s plenty to expect from this group in later stages as well.