The basketball gods owe the Dallas Mavericks a few favorable results this season.
The Mavs have been victimized by some horrendous officiating in the closing seconds of a few games, but Monday night's contest against the Thunder was too far gone for a few bad breaks to matter.
A merciful basketball god would have commanded a running clock to help ease the Mavericks' suffering as OKC posted an authoritative 112-91 victory before a sellout crowd of 18,203 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Thunder led by as many as 33, rested its starters the entire fourth quarter and played all 13 players – 11 of them for double-digit minutes.
OKC is now 3-0 against Dallas this season and has won nine straight against the Mavs if you include last year's 4-0 sweep in the first round of the playoffs.
Monday's outcome pushes the Mavericks one step closer to this year's NBA Draft lottery, which also directly affects the Thunder.
There were multiple moving parts in OKC's trade before this season that sent sixth man James Harden, center Cole Aldrich, guard Daequan Cook and forward Lazar Hayward to Houston in exchange for guards Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb on Oct. 27.
The Thunder also received two protected first-round picks from the Rockets that were obtained in previous trades and carry the following parameters:
*Toronto's first-round pick this year, if it falls between Nos. 4 through 14.
*Dallas' first-round pick this year, if it falls between Nos. 21-30.
OKC also has its own first-round pick this year, plus Charlotte's second-round pick stemming from the Dec. 19, 2011, trade involving center Byron Mullens.
If the aforementioned parameters with the Raptors are not met this year, the following occurs:
*In 2014 and 2015, the selection is protected for Nos. 1 and 2 and 15-30, leaving Nos. 3-14 for the Thunder.
*In 2016 and 2017, the selection is protected for the No. 1 pick and 15-30, leaving Nos. 2-15 for OKC.
*In 2018, the selection becomes unprotected, which means the Thunder will receive the Raptors' selection regardless of where it is, if it hasn't already been awarded from 2013-17.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks' first-round pick becomes unprotected in 2014, which means it would belong to OKC with no parameters.
Translation: The Thunder took one more step Monday toward the Mavs' unprotected pick in the 2014 Draft.
The world champion Mavericks of two years ago have been gutted. Gone are Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler, Jason Terry, Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson, J.J. Barea and Corey Brewer. Only Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and seldom-used Rodrigue Beaubois remain.
On Monday, the Mavs also were missing starting center Chris Kaman (concussion) and top reserve Vince Carter (illness).
Their presence probably wouldn't have mattered the way OKC took care of the ball (11 turnovers) and excelled defensively.
The Thunder scored 23 points off 14 Mavs turnovers, including 17 points by intermission when OKC led 68-44, a season-high total for a half.
“You put these guys on the open floor with catastrophic turnovers, they're going to make you look bad,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said afterward. “I think that was it, more than anything.”
Marion led the Mavs with 23 points and shot 10 for 14 from the field. Take away Marion, and Dallas shot 26 for 73 (.356). Nowitzki, who missed the two previous games with a strained right thigh muscle, finished with 10 points and shot 3 for 11 from the floor.
“They had, like, 17 points on turnovers (in the first half), right?” Marion said. “That sewed up the game and then we're playing catch-up the rest of the way.”