Here’s where the Thunder lost Game 1 to the Mavericks: second quarter.
The Thunder led 45-39 with 4:26 left in the first half. The Mavs scored 13 straight points and eventually took a 55-48 halftime lead.
“We were taking too many quick shots,” said Scotty Brooks. “We weren’t having enough ball movement. We weren’t moving that team at all in the second quarter, but the rest of the game, offensively we were fine.”
Russell Westbrook was the culprit. He suffered through a miserable shooting game — 3-of-15, with bad misses, most not close — but the second quarter is where Westbrook made not just poor shots, but poor decisions.
Also, the Thunder’s rebounding failed during that stretch. The Mavericks had 11 offensive rebounds, which is a little high but not awful. The Thunder had 13 offensive rebounds (but missed a lot more shots), so the rebounding was about even.
But three Dallas offensive rebounds came in that run, leading to three points. Tyson Chandler’s putback of a Dirk Nowitzki miss (yes, Dirk actually missed) cut the OKC lead to 45-41.
Then two straight trips for the Thunder, Westbrook shot without passing. Neither shot was great and both shots were way off. Both came late in the shot clock, so Westbrook was forced into it a little bit, but that was the result of stagnating offense, and this wasn’t the Memphis defense. Durant was hot — 6-for-6 at the time — and ready to go.
By the time the Thunder ran some real offense again, it trailed 46-45. Durant finally missed, Nowitzki made a 3-point play, and the Mavs led 49-45. It never was a one-possession game again.
Westbrook actually ended the run with three foul shots, off consecutive drives to the basket, and that’s a good sign for the Thunder. Westbrook going to the hoop is what OKC needs, and he and Durant combined for 37 foul shots (making 32), which more than offset Nowitzki’s 24-of-24.
But the Thunder can’t relax and go into an offensive funk. Near the end of the Dallas spree, Westbrook tossed the ball into Kendrick Perkins on the low post, which never works and didn’t Tuesday night.
The truth of the matter is, while the Thunder wonders how to stop Nowitzki and his shooters, the Mavs are wondering how to stop Durant and how to keep Westbrook from getting 18 foul shots.
So all is not lost. But the Thunder can’t afford to give up 13-0 runs in Game 2.