DEFENDING DIRK DEFINITELY DEMORALIZING
In preparation for Game 1, Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks told Serge Ibaka not to get demoralized if Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki started hitting shots on Tuesday night inside American Airlines Center.
"When I did say that, I didn't think he was going to make (that) many shots," Brooks joked of Nowitzki.
In one of the greatest shooting performances in NBA playoff history, Nowitzki scored 48 points while leading the Mavericks to a 121-112 victory.
Nowitzki took 39 shots and missed only three. He was 12 for 15 from the field, 24 for 24 from the free-throw line and didn't attempt a single 3-pointer despite having shot 60 percent beyond the arc so far in the playoffs.
His 24 free throws without a miss in an NBA playoff record.
In the third quarter alone, Nowitzki had 17 points on two field goals. He went 13 for 13 from the free-throw line, setting a franchise record for a quarter.
All told, seven fouls were called against Thunder players who were attempting to defend Nowitzki in the third period – one foul on Ibaka; two fouls on Nick Collison; two fouls on Kevin Durant; and two fouls on Thabo Sefolosha.
Center Kendrick Perkins defended Nowitzki on one possession and the German blew past him with a head-fake.
DIRK VS. DURANT
It didn't take long for the Nowitzki vs. Durant showdown to heat up Tuesday night, as they combined to score 23 points and shoot 9 for 9 from the field in the first quarter.
Nowitzki (4 for 4) needed just four minutes to score 10 of the Dallas Mavericks' first 12 points. Durant (5 for 5) scored nine of the Thunder's first 15 points and finished with 13 in the period.
Both players wound up making their first six shots. Nowitzki's first miss was at 4:10. Durant's was at 2:27.
THIS 'N THAT
- Brooks started reserve guard Nate Robinson at the outset of the fourth quarter. He played six minutes and finished 0 for 3 from the field, 0 for 2 from 3-point range. "I felt that we needed a spark and that's one of the things he does," Brooks said of Robinson. "He brings energy. He brings some toughness. We had a little spark, but it wasn't enough."
- The Thunder has had more fastbreak points in every postseason game, and outscored the Mavericks 22-14. OKC also outscored Dallas 40-36 in the paint, but the Mavs had a 14-11 advantage in second-chance points
- With 4:26 left in the second quarter, Perkins gave Shawn Marion a bloody nose with hard contact on a pick-and-roll on the right wing. Play was stopped and Mavs coach Rick Carlisle was slapped with a technical foul after arguing for a foul on Perkins. In a move likely intended to give Russell Westbrook a boost in confidence, Brooks had his point guard shoot the technical, which Westbrook swished. Westbrook was 1 for 6 from the field at the time. He would slip to 1 for 11 before hitting his second field goal and finished 3 for 15.
FEED THE CHILDREN
The NBA Players Association and Feed The Children delivered two trucks of food and recovery supplies to families at the More Than Conquerors Faith Church in Birmingham, Ala. These trucks were two of 23 that the NBPA and Feed The Children are sending to storm-swept communities across Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia.
Former Thunder player D.J. White is one of the players sponsoring the trucks being donated.
By John Rohde