Damian Lillard may have added the finishing touches, but Dallas dug its own grave with mistakes on defense and untimely misses.

In practice, the game ended 121-118 and came down to Luka Doncic missing a wide-open three-point jump shot. However, in principle, the game was decided in the third quarter when Portland scored 45 points, shooting 71 percent from the floor and 57 percent from three.

The game by the numbers:

In the third quarter, both Lillard and Robert Covington scored in double-figures. Lillard poured in 16 of his team-high 34 points. Meanwhile, Covington scored 10 of his 15 points against the lack-luster third-quarter defense the Mavericks played.

Again the defense is a primary issue for the Mavericks. Over the previous four-game win-streak Dallas gave up 130 points twice. In the two other games where the Mavs didn’t give up 130 points, they gave up 122 and 117 points. That is not exactly in the 04 Pistons category in stopping opposing teams from getting the shots they want.

On Sunday night the poor defense finally caught up to Dallas as defensive stops came few and far between in the second half. Any shot Lillard wanted, he got. And Lillard finding his rhythm allowed him to eventually deal a death blow to Dallas in the last minute of the fourth quarter.

Doncic routine big night:

Luka did it again. Over the last five games, Doncic is averaging an astounding 37 points per game.

In Sunday’s game, Doncic passed that mark (again), tallying 44 points and nine assists. And for long stretches of the game, there was nothing Portland could do to slow down his offensive production. In the pick-and-roll, the Trailblazers couldn’t stop Doncic from getting downhill and making secondary reads on the defensive coverage he faced. A third-quarter pass to Dorian Finney-Smith showcased Luka’s dominance in the pick-and-roll all game perfectly.

Impressively, tonight marked two franchise records for Doncic. He tallied his 14th consecutive game of at least 25 points and the highest two-game total at 90 points. Yet, amidst all the personal success of the game, all Doncic could think about was the game-tying shot he missed.

“It didn’t matter if I felt confident or not,” Doncic said. “I thought it was in. It went in and out, so I was disappointed and that’s on me. I should have hit the shot.”

Looking ahead:

This loss hurt, simply because the Mavs were so close to pulling the game out. As the saying goes, Portland snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. What doesn’t help is that Doncic’s possible game-tying shot rimmed out. You can’t win them all. Still, the Blazers showcased that on a night where no one outside of Doncic is playing particularly well, Dallas’ defense still isn’t good enough to win games.

Next up for Dallas is a very winnable game against the lowly, deserted, desperate, and frankly not that interesting Detroit Pistons. It’s not a game to necessarily take lightly because the Pistons are an NBA team, but it’s a game Dallas should be able to handle simply based on talent. I fully expect Dallas to get back into the win column come Wednesday night.

Related reading on the Mavs.

Feature image via Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

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