Thunder coach Scott Brooks' one-man scouting report on the Dallas Mavericks was short and sweet Monday morning.
“I think Dirk is back,” Brooks said of last year's NBA Final Most Valuable Player Dirk Nowitzki.
Ten hours later, Nowitzki nearly single-handedly beat the Thunder with fourth-quarter heroics, scoring 12 points while shooting 4 for 4 from 3-point range.
Nowitzki finished with a game-high 27 points while shooting 10 for 22 from the field (6 for 17 heading into the fourth quarter), but the Thunder went on to post a 95-91 victory thanks to scoring the final eight points of the game at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
What caught Brooks' attention was Nowitzki's 40-point game in just 29 minutes during a home victory against Utah on Saturday night.
A rusty Nowitzki got off to a slow start this season following the 149-day lockout and missed four straight games to rehab a tender knee.
Monday night's Thunder game against Dallas experienced technical difficulties early.
“A technical problem in the transmission of our game tonight caused our Spanish language audio feed to run on COX SD-Channel 37 in Oklahoma City,” Thunder spokesman Dan Mahoney explained. “It was resolved by the end of the first quarter. The FOX Sports Oklahoma HD channel in Oklahoma City (Ch 722) was not affected. We always provide our Spanish language radio feed to FOX Sports Oklahoma to run as a secondary audio program.”
OKC boosted its home record to 16-1 with the victory and has won 13 straight at The Peake. … The Thunder went 29 for 33 from the free-throw line, while the Mavs made all 10 of their attempts from the line. “That is what it is on the road,” Nowitzki said. … Dallas had 12 steals compared to just four for OKC. … The Thunder had a 45-36 rebounding advantage and 16-6 advantage in fastbreak points. … Mavs center Brandon Haywood sprained his left ankle on the first possession of the game and did not return.
Monday was the first of a five-game homestand for the Thunder. Next in line: Phoenix on Wednesday, Cleveland on Friday, Charlotte on Saturday, and Houston on Tuesday. All games start at 7 p.m.
Nowitzki on Dallas' late-game struggles: “It's tough. We won the championship last year because we were the best team to execute down the stretch, getting what we want and getting stops and this year so far we just don't have it.”