NBA Wrap February 15th
IMAGE: Blazer’s Edge
DONCIC MISSES GAME-TYING TRIPLE AS BLAZERS PREVAIL
With the ball in his hands, there was every chance Luka Doncic’s three would fall to tie the game.
His game-tying attempt went around the rim before dropping out to conclude a game filled with offensive explosions.
Damian Lillard scored 34 points handing out 11 assists as the Portland Trailblazers won for the sixth time in seven games eclipsing the Dallas Mavericks in a thriller 121-118.
Luka Doncic was on fire finishing with 44 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists for his third 40 point game, also becoming the second player in franchise history since Dirk Nowitzki in 2007 to score 110 points over a three-game span.
Portland began the contest on fire from behind the arc knocking down five triples to take an early double-digit lead.
Behind Doncic’s brilliant first-half with 24 points, including 11 in the last 1:42, hitting three straight bombs the Mavericks picked apart the Blazers’ defence going into intermission up 61-58.
Portland regained the ascendancy as done in the first applying their damage from three hitting seven of them, with Lillard unstoppable scoring 16 points in the frame, and the red-hot shooting of Gary Trent Jr and Robert Covington elevated the Blazers up 12 at the end of three.
Portland seemed to always find an answer to any Dallas challenge maintaining a lead of 13 with 6:50 left when Simons dumped the ball inside for Kanter to finish a 4-foot layup high of the window.
With time the enemy, Doncic knew the moment was now for one last Mavericks thrust. The young superstar took over calmly picking his spots despite having an excellent perimeter Covington guarding him.
He scored eight points during the run bringing Dallas within one with 1:55 remaining on a pair of free throws. Having willed the team with his usual scoring prowess and Portland wanting the ball out of his hands, he played the facilitator role passing out to a wide-open Dorian Finney-Smith who tied the game at 116 on a corner three.
Lillard almost immediately had an answer burying his patterned step-back triple from the top of the arc to quiet down the Mavericks.
That is when the game ultimately came down to the dying seconds. Coming out the team timeout huddle, the Mavericks with Finney-Smith inbounding the ball, found Doncic who had gotten free from Covington. With a terrific look at the rim, he let it fly, the game hanging on the one shot. Unfortunately for him and Dallas the ball rimmed out as Portland breathed a sigh of relief.
In other results around the Association:
Justin Jackson hit the clutch sealing triple in the final 25 seconds as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Milwaukee Bucks despite Giannis Antetokounmpo putting up excellent numbers 114-109.
Jackson had a team-high 22 points, and savvy veteran Al Horford posted 20 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists completely outplaying his opposing Centre Brook Lopez.
A great team victory for OKC who were again without leading-scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander missing a third straight game with a left knee sprain having come off two narrow overtime losses to the Los Angeles Lakers and a two point loss to the Denver Nuggets.
2-time MVP Antetokounmpo had a team-high 24 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists, while 2-time All-Star Khris Middleton scored 23 despite battling foul trouble early in the second half.
The Bucks spilt a tough six-game road swing and now head back home where they will have the comfort of eight games at the Fiserv Forum. OKC next have the surging Portland Trailblazers having beat them 125-122 on January 26.
The one-game rest did League leading-scorer Bradley Beal the world of good as he scored 35 points and the Washington Wizards motored by the scuffling Boston Celtics in the second half to win 104-91.
Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown each had 25 for the Celtics, with Jayson Tatum held to a season-low six points on 3 of 14 shooting.
Karl-Anthony Towns posted 20 points and 11 rebounds as the Minnesota Timberwolves held on to beat the Toronto Raptors 116-112 with Pascal Siakam missing an open layup to tie the game.
The consistent Kyle Lowry had 24 points for the Raptors who have its last couple and sit eighth in the East only a half game ahead of the Miami Heat and the Atlanta Hawks near the two-fifth stage of the season.
Dejounte Murray scored 26 points while Derrick White had 25 and the San Antonio Spurs used the final five minutes to push past the short-handed Charlotte Hornets 122-110.
Terry Rozier coming off a sensational 41 point game against Minnesota had a team-high 33 points, who were without leading-scorer Gordon Hayward with lower back soreness.
Josh Jackson ignited the Pistons with 21 points off the bench, while Mason Plumlee recorded his first ever triple-double in his career as the Detroit won for the third time in four games beating the New Orleans Pelicans 123-112.
Devin Booker scored 27 points and the Phoenix Suns made light work of the Orlando Magic on route to an easy 109-90 victory – its ninth win in its last ten moving them eight games over .500 for the first time since 2013/2014.
Nikola Jokic dominated the Lakers with 23 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists as the Denver Nuggets motored by the last season’s Champions who played the second half with out Anthony Davis who re-aggravated his right Achilles.
Jonas Valanciunas posted 25 points and 13 rebounds and the Memphis Grizzlies were rarely headed by the Sacramento Kings in a 124-110 win.
Lou Williams in a starters role had a team-high 30 points and 10 assists for the Los Angeles Clippers who easily disposed of the Cleveland Cavaliers 128-111 despite no Kawhi Leonard
(leg contusion) and Paul George (foot).
By Juri Bilcich