Mavs 100, Thunder 87
Nuggets from my notebook from Monday’s 100-87 loss at Dallas.
- What? Did you think the Thunder was going to go 66-0?
- I said before the game that this would be a tough one for the Thunder. The Mavs were desperate and they played like it. Add to that, Dallas’ experience has had a way of giving the Thunder fits. Those two things played a big part in the outcome tonight.
- Having said that, the Thunder should be kicking itself. OKC had a chance to keep its momentum rolling and get out of here with a win. But the boys in blue made one mental mistake after another and played its worst game of the young season.
- Those mistakes were most glaring on the defensive end. The Thunder fell for pump fakes, had poor closeouts, struggled to rebound the ball defensively and occasionally forgot the term help defense. As a result, the Mavs became the first team to shoot more than 45 percent against the Thunder, converting 48.8 and leading by as many as 16 before cruising to victory.
- I never thought the Mavs’ reserves would outscore the Thunder’s 47-25. Last year, these two benches had a nice battle. This year, with Dallas having so much turnover in that second unit, it was the biggest shocker of the night. Vince Carter was aggressive, Lamar Odom showed he has a pulse, Jason Terry was his usual disruptive self and Ian Mahinmi was, at times, a monster. For the Thunder, James Harden and Eric Maynor did all the scoring, which is so out of character for OKC. It’s only five games, but clearly the Thunder needs its bench to play well to win.
- Don’t get too bent out of shape about this one. It’s only one game — and it’s the first of seven in 10 days. We could look up nine days from now and see the Thunder atop the standings at 11-1. This one would then be a distant memory.
- Kevin Durant put this loss, like so many others, squarely on his shoulders. “We didn’t have any energy from the beginning,” said Durant. “It starts with me. I got to be better on both ends.”
- This one was NOT solely on KD. But he didn’t have a good night. He started 1-for-5 offensively and looked lazy on defense. He pulled down just two rebounds and didn’t register an assist for the first time this season while turning it over three times.
- It’s amazing KD can play so poorly and finish with a game-high 27 points.
- I wrote this last year, but I love how Dallas coach Rick Carlisle subs Dirk Nowitzki. He comes out around the four-minute mark of the first and third quarters and comes back in with a minute and a half to two minutes left in those quarters. It might be a good way for Scott Brooks to use Durant. It could limit Durant’s minutes but also keep him on the court during critical stretches. One more thing. It would put Durant in with the second unit at the start of the second quarter, which is one way of starting Harden without worrying about scoring off the bench.
- Speaking of starting Harden, he started the second half after Thabo Sefolosha did not return to the game after halftime because of right foot soreness. In all honesty, it didn’t matter. Harden’s presence in a makeshift starting lineup didn’t mean a thing tonight in the third quarter.
- Sefolosha on his right foot: “It’s just sore. Tonight it kept me out of being able to play. Hopefully it’ll feel better soon.” Sefolosha added it’s too soon to know his status for Tuesday night against Portland. “I’m going to ice it all day and see how it feels.”
- Sefolosha was also battling flu-like symptoms earlier in the day. He missed the team’s shoot-around to remain at the hotel and rest. Daequan Cook did not play tonight for the same reason. When I asked Thabo how he felt earlier in the day he said “bad.”
- With Sefolosha and Cook sidelined, Lazar Hayward and rookie Reggie Jackson got some burn tonight. Tough situation for both to be put in. A first-year player and a second-year player, both late first-round picks, generally aren’t going to make a difference in momentum when it was as one-sided as it was in favor of the champs tonight. They played hard but combined to go 0-for-7 from the field.
- Delonte West was blowing by Sefolosha in the first half. If it had anything to do with Sefolosha’s sore foot, then he deserves credit for fighting through it and giving his team all he had. Sefolosha deserves even more credit for realizing he was too banged up to continue. West might have had a big night, but he’s not the first, second or third option so the Mavs weren’t ever going to keep going to him. Also, Carlisle sat him after two straight turnovers inside the lane after he got past Sefolosha.
- I’ll just say it real quickly and move on. The Mavs got a lot of calls tonight. Some they earned because of their aggressiveness. Some they had no business getting.
- Here’s where Mavs fans point out that the Thunder attempted six more free throws.
- Nick Collison was better than the box score indicated. But what else is new? He went scoreless but had five boards and one assist in 12 minutes. He made two extra passes to Serge Ibaka in the first half that were the type of plays that illustrated the kind of ball movement Brooks wants all his players to use.
- Collison had three fouls in five minutes. Oops. I said I was going to let it go didn’t I?
- Brooks unveiled his small ball lineup of Maynor, Russell Westbrook and Harden tonight. It came with 4:19 remaining in the third quarter. Once again, it was a maneuver that ultimately did little. Just that kind of night. Said Brooks: “I just tried to get a spark because we didn’t have much going offensively when we got down 15.”
- Overheard in the stands tonight…After Westbrook blew past West for a layup and the game’s first points one Mavs fan said “It’s over.”…Also, during one Thunder possession in which Jason Kidd was on Sefolosha: “There’s no way Kidd can guard Sefolosha.”
- Westbrook scored 18 points on 8-for-20 shooting. And at times, he was completely out of control, often losing the ball on drives. If this was the playoffs, we’d be hearing about it for two days.
- Russ had two hard drives to the rack tonight and threw down tomahawk dunks. They were the type of plays that he’s used to establish himself as one of the most athletic point guards in the game.
- Brooks took the ball out of Westbrook’s hands throughout the game tonight. Durant was bringing it up, although that’s become commonplace. Harden handled the point at times. And Maynor was the lead guard in that small ball lineup. Anybody see anything wrong with doing that more often? Aside from fostering his long term development, I’m not sure why the Thunder keeps it in Westbrook’s hands so much even when he’s struggling.
- Ibaka was active again, although he gets lumped in with the rest of the lousy performers defensively. Ibaka allowed Dirk to get free one too many times and had a few too many bone-headed fouls, including one on a fast-break layup by Odom that led to a three-point play chance. But when Ibaka is playing with energy the way he was tonight, it’s the first step of him being productive.
- Maynor returned to shooting his floater from a reasonable distance tonight. I got a little worried about him after the last game.
- Dirk netted his 8,000th career field goal tonight.
- The Mavs are headed to the White House to be honored by President Obama next Monday. Just what the Mavs need, more distractions and another way to drag out this championship celebration. It was pointed out to me tonight that Dallas still hasn’t gotten its championship rings. So that’s going to be another ceremony that will have to take place at some point this season. This could be the longest championship celebration ever. And people wonder why the Mavs are struggling.
- The Thunder never led by more than two in this game and lost its last lead when the Mavs tied it up at 12 with 3:32 remaining in the first quarter. That about sums up this night.
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