Mavs 103, Thunder 93
Nuggets from my notebook from Monday’s loss to Dallas.
- There’s a reason Dirk Nowitzki last week called Jason Terry Dallas’ “closer.” We saw why tonight. But it should not have come as a surprise. Terry has made a career of canning clutch shots. He had 11 fourth-quarter points tonight and stole this win when comrade Nowitzki was back in the locker room nursing a knee injury.
- Terry was 5-for-8 in the fourth quarter. The Thunder was 4-for-18. That’s borderline embarrassing.
- As I wrote for Tuesday’s paper, it was a fan seated courtside that got Terry going. This guy, who’s a regular, gave Terry an earful all night. And he lit a fire under Terry. Next time, the guy probably should keep his mouth shut.
- Terry had some great quotes after this one.
- “Once we kept it close I knew that, in this hostile environment, we’d have the upper hand because we are a veteran team and we’ve been in this position numerous times.”
- “It just shows you how deep of a team we are and the veteran leadership that we have. We come in at halftime and Dirk says, ‘What’s the score?’ We said, ‘It’s tied up.’ He said, “Oh, you guys got ‘em. No problem. I’ll take the night off.’
- “Dallas is No. 1, and OKC is a close second as far as the best fans in the NBA. It’s unbelievable. They’re here early. They stay late. They’re cheering. They’re just unbelievable. And it’s great to know that in a small market like this you have die-hard fans. They’re some of the best.”
- “They’re still a great team. That’s a good young team there. They’re missing one or two veterans and that’s about it. But, hey, Oklahoma City, they’re tough.”
- Earlier today, on our weekly Thunder/NBA chat, I said that a big key to a win tonight will be the Thunder’s ability to run the Mavs off the 3-point line. The Thunder failed miserably at that tonight. The Mavs made five of their first six 3s and connected on 11 of 23 for the game.
- This one could have looked much worse had Nowitzki been around in the fourth. When he limped to the locker room with 9:10 left in the second quarter, it looked like a golden opportunity for the Thunder to seal a win. But the Thunder made up just six points on the Mavs with Nowitzki out for the remainder of the first half and pulled only to within a tie. Then, with Dirk out for the second half, the Thunder let the Mavs get confidence and steal this W. There was a stretch early in the third quarter where Dallas looked out of sync. But OKC couldn’t do anything to capitalize.
- No team is going to play great every night. I get that. But I’m not sure if the fourth quarter we witnessed from the Thunder was more of the same old stagnant offense or just one of those nights. I do know that it’s the second time it’s happened against this Mavs team.
- With Dallas coach Rick Carlisle back home recovering from knee surgery last week, Mavs assistant Dwane Casey coached this game like he was in a one-game audition for a head-coaching job. Casey barked instructions all night, rarely sitting down or taking a breather. My man was intense tonight. Was he that way in Minnesota?
- Russell Westbrook took a spill with 1:30 remaining in this one. He hurt his right elbow and was immediately taken to the locker room. But he told me after the game that he was OK. He’s expected to practice tomorrow.
- The Mavs are 11-1 on the road. That’s incredible. Dallas also has now won 17 of 18. And I still think the Mavs are the third best team in the West behind the Lakers and Spurs. But I think Dallas can give everyone fits in the playoffs.
- Found myself wondering in the first half why the Thunder didn’t push the pace more in this one? I’m talking on a make, miss, turnover, whatever? The Mavs have no shot at keeping up with the Thunder.
- Shout out to the folks in Section 106 who finally got the Nick Collison charge count going. Regular readers of this blog know that I’ve been campaigning for that for some time. And whoever is responsible gets extra credit for the holiday theme decoration. But come on. When Collison drew a charge in the first quarter, his 20th of the season, the number didn’t change. Let’s get that thing going with up-to-the-second updates. And leave it up. Don’t change to the KD for All (star symbol) sign midway through the game. Durant is going to be an All-Star. Give Collison some love.
- Before he started forcing things in the second half, Westbrook made four mid-range jumpers in the first quarter. All of them looked smooth and controlled. Very impressive.
- After writing today about whether the Thunder needs a rival and whether Dallas is it, a few people mentioned to me after this one that the Mavs do indeed look like a perfect match. I tend to agree with what Thunder coach Scott Brooks and Collison told me for that piece. Rivalries are born in the playoffs. As awful as fans might feel after seeing the Mavs come to town and sweep the Thunder, imagine how you’d feel if these two losses were in the playoffs…And it happened year after year. That’s what starts a rivalry.
- Two straight games of funky tattoos. On Saturday, we saw Birdman’s colorful “FREE-BIRD” across his neck and Kenyon Martin’s red lips and, well, J.R. Smith’s entire unclothed body. Tonight, it was DeShawn Stevenson’s Abe Lincoln across his neck. Freaky stuff.
- James Harden. Turnovers. Steals. Blocked shots. Just a few positives that you can take from this one.
- Serge Ibaka tried to swat everything in sight in the first half. And he had some great ones. His block on J.J. Barea’s floater led to a Harden fast break dunk. Ibaka later rejected a Tyson Chandler dunk. It looked better than it actually was but was still impressive. Chandler lost the ball going up and Ibaka stuffed it back at him as he was losing it.
- Had no idea until just before typing this sentence that Jason Kidd messed around and almost had a triple double.
- Tonight’s game was the 14 sellout in 17 games. I’ve been telling co-workers this over the past few days. I don’t think we (we being this market) fully appreciate how impressive the fans are here. The house is packed every night. There are not a lot of NBA teams that are filling up the building on a nightly basis like this.
- I found myself staring at referee Bennett Salvatore in the second quarter as he talked to the scoreboard operator. The whole time I’m thinking he could have been in Tony Soprano’s crew. Kind of looks like Paulie’s long lost brother.
- Halftime entertainment was a well-known contortionist who calls himself “The Rubber Boy.” I generally don’t care for his act, and the halftime crowd didn’t either judging by its half-hearted applause when he began his act by emerging from a tiny trunk. But to see this guy fit his whole body through a toilet seat, for some strange reason, was extremely entertaining. Don’t judge me.
- Good news, Thunder heads. OKC is 9-1 after a loss. New Jersey is coming in next. You know what that means.
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