LaMarcus Aldridge: C With 15 points in the first half, LaMarcus Aldridge seemed to be on to something. In the second half, however, he went cold, scoring just five. Nonetheless, when hitting nine of 19 attempts, Aldridge should’ve gotten a few more off—especially against a Dallas defensive front line that has no proven stoppers.
Nicolas Batum: C- Batum, with 14 points and five boards, fell in love with three, jacking up five and missing them all. Not good enough. Can’t settle.
JJ Hickson: B+ Hickson continues to impress with his scrap—11 rebounds, seven of them on the offensive glass in just 25 minutes.
Damian Lillard: C- In the second half Dallas began running a trap up top to get the ball out of Lillard’s hands before he could initiate the offense. And once Lillard passed out, the Blazers’ offense often fell stagnant. Expect more teams to adopt this technique until the Blazers find a way around it. Otherwise, Lillard couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, Monday night. He took eight three-point attempts, making one, and finished just 2-13 from the field.
Wesley Matthews: B- Matthews’ hot shooting—3-of-4 from behind the arc—was offset by his five turnovers.
Meyers Leonard: C Leonard grabbed nine boards to go along with his six points, but was flummoxed regularly on both offense and defense alike. He was also responsible for two sloppy turnovers (though officially credited for only one) on lackadaisical passes that cost the Blazers dearly, fueling Dallas’ game-breaking fourth quarter run.
THREE THINGS WE SAW:
1: In a homecoming of sorts, Terry Stotts made his first obvious technical mistake. Rather than calling timeout to get the starters back in during a decisive period, Stotts waited for a break in play, while the aforementioned Meyers Leonard turnovers and other such buffoonery by the Blazers’ bench allowed Dallas to gain control.
2: Despite the mistakes, missteps and critiques, this game, for the most of three quarters, was a lot closer and more competitive than the final score suggests. Time and time again Portland weathered Dallas’ hot shooting and responded with runs of their own. Again, this young team showed more heart and resilience than just about anyone expected.
3: Though I mentioned it above, I think it’s worth reiterating: trapping Damian Lillard after he crosses half-court flummoxed the Blazers. Expect to see more of it as the scouting reports gather steam.
4: A thought about the Mavericks: for a team who had both Plan A and Plan B foiled when Derron Williams and Dwight Howard ended up elsewhere, Plan C is looking better than expected. OJ Mayo has begun the season on fire, Darren Collison continues to improve, as does Brandan Wright, and rookie Jae Crowder could be the draft’s hidden gem. Indeed, the Mavs are playing quite well, which should give Dirk Nowitzki the time he needs to get properly healthy.