Dallas Mavericks defensive woes continue as they fall to Blazers without Luka Doncic

Dallas Mavericks, Christian Wood
Dallas Mavericks, Christian Wood / Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks lost to the Portland Trail Blazers 140-123 on Sunday night to fall to 0-5 without superstar Luka Doncic this season. Number 77 was listed as out with an ankle injury, but he rested on the second night of a back-to-back as the Mavs lost their second straight game in Portland. Dallas played well on the offensive end, but they just could not get stops on Jan. 15.

The Mavs were without five key rotation players on Sunday night. Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, and Josh Green all remained out as they were joined by Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr. THJ injured his ankle in the fourth quarter on Saturday night, and he is likely to miss additional time with a sprain. It was always going to be a tall task to win in Portland without Luka, but the Mavs gave it their best effort on Sunday evening.

Christian Wood, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Jaden Hardy stepped up in Doncic’s absence, but it was the team’s defense that was just not good enough for the second straight night. Portland scored 136 on Saturday night before dropping 140 on the second night of a back-to-back. Here is a closer look at how the Mavericks performed in their second straight loss before looking at what is next.

Dallas Mavericks cannot get stops as they fall to Blazers without Luka Doncic

The Mavs were shorthanded on Jan. 15, and it showed in the fourth quarter as the Blazers ran away with the victory at the Moda Center. Spencer Dinwiddie had a second straight strong performance as he went for 28 points on seven of 15 shooting from the field with nine assists and just one turnover. He was the star of the night for the Mavericks, but Portland was the superior team on Sunday night.

Christian Wood returned after missing one game with an ankle injury, but he did not miss a beat. The 6’10 big man finished with 23 points, 16 rebounds, and one block in 36 minutes of action. He was just eight of 24 from the field, and the Mavericks were outscored by 24 with him on the floor.

Jaden Hardy had a strong night off the bench for Dallas. The 20-year-old rookie got hot and scored a career-best 25 points in 26 minutes of action. He was eight of 17 from the field and went six of nine on his free throws on Sunday night. Hardy is aggressive and has zero fear. He loves to attack the basket, and the 6’4 guard is special. He still needs time to develop, but Dallas drafted a steal in the second round.

Credit to Davis Bertans for stepping up for the shorthanded Mavericks. He is known strictly as a 3-point sharpshooter, but the 6’10 big man had 11 points, four rebounds, and one steal in 28 minutes on Sunday night. Bertans made an impact off the bench and gave Dallas quality minutes.

The Mavs' defense has been a problem without Kleber, Finney-Smith, and Green over the last month. Things went from bad to worse during these two games in Portland. The Trail Blazers had their two highest-scoring games of the season against Dallas in the last two nights. The Mavericks must lock in on that end of the floor, and they need reinforcements if they are going to get anywhere near where they were last season when they reached the conference finals.

The Dallas Mavericks have two needed days off before hosting the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday to start a four-game homestand. Luka Doncic and Josh Green should be back in the lineup as the Mavs look to snap a two-game losing streak. Expect Luka and Trae Young to put on a show at the American Airlines Center, so do not miss it.

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