Somebody must have pulled the plug on the Dallas Mavericks’ offense.
What other explanation is there for Thursday’s surprising no-show against the Portland Trail Blazers?
Looking tired and completely out of breath, the Mavs shot just 37.6 percent from the field and scored a season low in points while getting drubbed by the Blazers, 94-75, before a sellout crowd of 19,499 at the Moda Center.
The loss – in what could be a first-round playoff matchup – dropped the Mavs to 40-23 and it doesn’t get any easier as the Mavs flew to Northern California after Thursday’s loss to prepare for Friday night’s contest in Oakland against the red-hot Golden State Warriors.
In examining how his offense flamed out against the Blazers, coach Rick Carlisle spoke in matter-of-fact terms. Especially when he glanced at the stat sheet and noticed that his team missed 14 of their 16 shots they took form 3-point range.
“We didn’t make shots,” said Carlisle in stating the obvious. “I thought we had quite a few good looks in the first half – and then some in the second.
“We just had a bad shooting night -- the threes weren’t there. On nights like that you’ve got to somehow hang in with your defense.”
On paper, the Mavs were expecting to be way more explosive than what they showed. Dallas hadn’t played since winning at home against New Orleans on Monday.
The Blazers, meanwhile, beat the Clippers in overtime Wednesday night in Los Angeles. Under those circumstances, advantage Mavs, right?
Well, it was. Until the Blazers seized control of the game with a 12-1 run to end the first half and helped themselves to a 40-36 lead at intermission.
“I’m very disappointed,” center Tyson Chandler said. “I thought especially since we were catching them on a back-to-back.”
Portland, behind All-Star point guard Damian Lillard, marched out and opened the second half and went up 69-55 late in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Dorell Wright. The Mavs never got closer than 10 the rest of the game.
“I thought we played great defense, especially in the first half,” said Chandler, who had a game-high 14 rebounds after missing three games with a left hip flexor. “But our offense was just not executing, very stagnant.
“We were penetrating early in the game – I think we kind of went away from that. We struggled tonight offensively.”
Monta Ellis and Amar’e Stoudemire led the Mavs with 12 points each, and Dirk Nowitzki and Rajon Rondo each popped in 10 points, while the later also had four turnovers and was only 5 of 13 from the field. The inefficient offense was a hot button, but only to a point, according to Nowitzki.
“The low point of the season is aggressive,” Nowitzki said, when asked if this was the low point of the season for the Mavs. “But you never want to lose a game, especially now with whatever, 19-20 games left.”
The Mavs were without small forward Chandler Parsons, who missed his sixth game in a row due to a sprain and bone bruise to his left ankle. Parsons averages 15.4 points per game, and the Mavs certainly could have used his offensive production against the Blazers.
“We’ve got to step it up and hopefully get Parsons back pretty soon,” said Nowitzki, who was 5 of 13 from the field. “He’s a good weapon for us offensively, and then hopefully we stay healthy and make a run at this thing.”
The injury bug tagged the Mavs again Thursday as backup point guard Devin Harris injured his right hand in the area between his thumb and index finger An earlier scan showed no damage, but Harris, who had seven points in 28 minutes, left the locker room and was headed to the X-ray room.
“Just a trip underneath the basket, (Robin) Lopez kind of took a wipe at the ball and just kind of hit me in an awkward spot,” Harris said. “It’s a little bit of pain – I can’t really move it.”
That about sums up this night for the Mavs, who came in fourth in the NBA in scoring at 105.2 points per game. Their offense looked like it was in a lot of pain, and now they move on to Oakland to play the second-best team in the entire NBA.
“We were doing alright defensively for awhile and then they kind of popped it open the second half,” Carlisle said. “The rebounding deficit hurt us again, untimely turnovers hurt us.
“The possession aspect of the game is something we’ve go to do better with. We just got to keep turnovers down – we’ve got to rebound better.”
Portland turned 13 Dallas turnovers into 20 points. The Blazers also relentlessly pounded the Mavs on the boards, 56-41.
Seagoville native LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds for Portland, Nicolas Batum had 15 points and 12 boards, Lillard collected 14 points, six rebounds and five assists, and Lopez added 13 points and seven rebounds.
“I think it was a bad shooting night, but also we didn’t help ourselves,” Chandler said. “We didn’t execute very well, we weren’t very fluent in our plays.
“We’ve got to do a little better job of executing and making sure that we’re in our spots and we run the play through.”
Ellis, who recently had issues with his hip, was just 5 of 20 from the field and kept missing a lot of wide open shots. But the Mavs know even if Ellis is in pain, he’ll never tell them.
“He plays no matter what,” Carlisle said. “That’s just how he is, and I know he has aches and pains, and I’ve got to work harder to get him better shots.
That’s got to be my responsibility. He’s not going to make any excuses about it.”
The Mavs scored the final six points of the first period and assumed a 23-17 lead. Things looked promising at the time.
Then, time – and the Blazers’ stout defense – caught up with the Mavs and bit them where it hurt the most.
And no way was Carlisle about to point fingers when he knows there were enough players to blame for this offensive meltdown.
“We’re a team,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got to own it when it doesn’t go well and we’ve got to stick together when it doesn’t go well.
“And right now we’ve got to stick together and keep fighting through this. We’re working at playing better basketball and we’re just not there yet.”