The downslide continued for the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday in their 96-91 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. But, a bright spot who emerged for the Blazers was rookie Will Barton, who was filling in for Wesley Matthews after the Portland shooting guard was injured in the second quarter.
Barton did his part but the rest of the team couldn’t quite come through in suffering its eighth straight loss. Two weeks ago, Portland was still hopeful of making the NBA playoffs. But that hope is long gone. Barton had season-highs in points with 22, rebounds with 13 and assists with six.
He wound up playing more than 22 minutes, and was 7-of-11 from the floor and 8-of-9 from the free-throw line. He also had three steals, and seemed like he couldn’t do anything wrong.
It was as complete of a game as he could have had, considering he has been averaging only 3.2 points, 1.7 rebounds and less than an assist per game for the season.
For the season, Barton has been averaging 10.4 minutes pre game and is hitting 36.3 percent from the floor and 75 percent from the line. He showed what he can do with a lot of minutes. He hadn’t scored in double figures since December.
Perhaps Barton deserves more playing time as the Blazers try to salvage something out of what’s been a disappointing late-season fade. Portland has been using him sparingly and Barton hasn’t really had a chance to get into a proper groove and learn the NBA game inside-and-out.
He might be someone who deserves a larger role next season.