Trailing by 30 points in the 2nd quarter, the Portland Trail Blazers rode Thomas Robinson’s energy from apathy to determination, storming all the way back to take a 6-point lead deep in the 4th, only to have every close shot and every close call go against them in the final minutes and lose in what has to be the most heartbreaking loss of the season, 103-98.
It can’t be overemphasized that Thomas Robinson was the spark that got the Blazers to care about this game. Ignore his 11 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks. His 6 fouls (with a technical) in just 20 minutes say more about how much he wanted to win this game than any other stat can. In his first game back from injury, he was motivated, upset, and aggressive… all things that every other Blazers was not to start this game. If he plays with anywhere near this passion to end the season, he will be a permanent fixture in the rotation.
After falling behind by as many as 30 points in the 2nd quarter, the Blazers, led by the fresh-from-injury Thomas Robinson, stormed back to within about 20 to get the Dallas blowout from “comical” to “solid.”
The Blazers still had far, far too many turnovers, but at least by halftime the looked like they cared about the mistakes they made. They took a 36-57 deficit into the third.
And while LaMarcus Aldridge (30 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals) to that point looked underwhelming, there was one positive development: he seemed willing to spin into the paint off the block rather than just fade away, a move we hadn’t seen much (or at all) since his injury.
Wesley Matthews (26 and 6) hit a three to start the third, which every Blazers fan hoped was a sign of better things to come. Aldridge got 6 points in short order, and Nicolas Batum (9-5-5) nailed a three to force the Dallas timeout and, more importantly, bring the game to within 11, 61-50.
Portland started attacking. The defense picked up. It was 65-58. Every shot that rolled around and dropped in for Dallas started falling out. Every bump that resulted in a turnover for the Blazers now earned them a foul. Aldridge was on fire. Robin Lopez (Just 2 points and 5 rebounds, but with 2 blocks) was grabbing offensive rebounds. All of a sudden, it was 67 apiece with 4 minutes to go in the third, and Dallas was stunned. And right back where the energy shift started, Thomas Robinson took a charge with the Blazers now UP by two, their first lead of the game, to force another Dallas timeout.
Going into a fourth quarter down by a point isn’t usually something to cheer about. On this night, it was worth waking the neighbors over. Thomas Robinson continued making his presence felt, drawing a flagrant foul and nailing both free throws to start the quarter.
The Blazers kept pushing, Dallas’ 50/50 balls kept tipping out, and the Blazers were up 85-78 with 9:30 to go. The only tarnish on the Blazers’ brass was that they were in the penalty by that point, which could have given the Mavericks a chance to worm their way back into it from the line.
Dallas attacked Thomas Robinson, and Dirk Nowitzki flopped and flailed to sit Robinson on the bench with this sixth foul. After a free throw parade and a three, the Mavericks were up again by a single point, with 7 minutes to go.
The Blazers were having none of it, corralling offensive rebounds, attacking the Mavericks’ soft spots, and limiting the Mavericks’ second chance points to push it to 98-92 with 4:02 to go.
Unfortunately, the lid that had been so firmly placed over the Maverick’s rim then transferred to the Blazers’ side, as close shot after close shot spun and twirled and wavered and clanked around, but refused to stay down. Invigorated by this sudden turn of misfortune for their opponents, the Mavericks went on a 6-0 run to tie it at 98 with 1:40 to go.
After a wild sequence where an out of bounds called was review, Samuel Dalembert missed a dunk ,and the Blazers could NOT get a shot within inches of the basket to fall, Devin Harris drove and, on a 50/50 call, got the blocking foul and the bucket to put Dallas up 101-98 with 24 seconds left.
What happened next was soul crushing. LaMarcus Aldridge tried to pass to a back-cutting Damian Lillard, but overthrew it badly and out of bounds. Then Monta Ellis was fouled, stepped to the line, missed BOTH… but between Dalembert blatantly pushing into and holding Robin Lopez for the 30th time and Vince Carter timing his move perfectly, Dallas got the offensive rebounds, and that was the game.
There has never been a more soul-crushing 30-point comeback in the history of Blazers basketball. This one goes down as a historical lesson on how not to time a super-frigidly-cold spell. The Blazers might need to schedule an appointment with a therapist between now and their game on Sunday in Houston against the Rockets at 4:00 p.m. PST.
- Thomas Robinson was the difference for the Blazers when nobody else seemed like they wanted to be there. T-Rob had 9 points, 8 rebounds, a block and a steal in the first half, and seemed to energize everyone else from level zero to at least level 3 or 4.
- The Blazers couldn’t even buy a free throw early, but hit some timely ones down the stretch.
- Matthews’ ability to post up is such an asset. The ability to post up your opponent’s shooting guard adds an important wrinkle to the offense, not only by getting shots closer to the rim, but to suck the perimeter defense from the three point line.
- Damian Lillard laid an egg. Far, far too often, his “cool” demeanor crosses into “too cool for school” territory. He obviously cares. He obviously has a fire. But sometimes he just doesn’t show it. His 10 points off just 10 shots showed that tonight.