DALLAS — The Russell Westbrook vs. Jason Kidd showcase at point guard got benched Tuesday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.
Instead, it was the backup backcourt tandem of Jason Terry and J.J. Barea that separated the Dallas Mavericks from the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 121-112 victory at American Airlines Center.
An incredible duel between Dirk Nowitzki (48 points) and Kevin Durant (40) stole the spotlight, but the Mavs' bench shined far brighter than the Thunder reserves, outscoring the visitors 53-22.
Terry had 24 points and four 3-pointers, while Barea erupted for 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting in just 16 minutes.
Meanwhile, Westbrook missed 10 of his first 11 shots and finished 3 for 15 from the field. He did convert 14 of 18 free throws to finish with 20 points.
“It happens,” said Westbrook, who also had three assists and four turnovers.
Asked what the Mavericks did to defend him, Westbrook said, “Nothing, I just missed shots.”
Kidd had three points, 11 assists and three steals.
“He's a very good player,” Brooks said of Barea, who played collegiately at Northeastern. “He has a great handle. He has great quickness. He's crafty. They set great screens for him and he was able to collapse our defense.
“I read in the paper yesterday that Jason Kidd compared him to me. That's way, way off. I was nowhere near as good as that kid. He (Kidd) is not going to be a good general manager.”
“He is fearless,” Nowitzki said of the 6-foot, 175-pound Barea. “He can finish off the dribble with the best of them. What really helps him now is that he's really worked on his 3-point shot. Now you can't just go under him and ... dare him to shoot.”
Meanwhile, Terry was a man of his word.
“I'm trying to out-perform their entire bench,'' Terry told The Dallas Morning News on Monday. “That's what I do. Collectively, our bench is not always talked about. But in this series it's going to be a situation where, whatever bench outplays the other, that (team) has the advantage.”