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Thunder 102, Mavs 99

by Darnell Mayberry Published: May 1, 2012

Nuggets from my notebook from Monday's win over Dallas.

  • Two games. Two Thunder wins. Both decided by a combined four points. Tells you exactly how even this matchup is.
  • No surprise that a light skirmish broke out midway through the first quarter. The Thunder has been playing Dirk Nowitzki extremely physically and, more importantly, extremely effectively. The Mavs aren't used to either of those things. And tonight, Dirk had enough. After taking a shot to the head by Serge Ibaka, Nowitzki decided to take matters into his own hands. First, he gave Ibaka a little shove along with a few words as they ran back on D. And then Kendrick Perkins delivered an elbow while trying to back down Dirk in the post. At the end of that possession, Dirk and Perk got tangled up going for a rebound and that's when all hell damn near broke loose.
  • Perk walked up on Dirk. Then Dirk shoved Perk. And Perk "shoved" back. The two had to be separated as they proceeded to call each other everything but a child of God. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle got in the middle of it all, exchanging words with Perk and eventually having to be separated from Perk, too. Both Nowitzki and Perkins were hit with double technical fouls before we finally got back to basketball.
  • The last thing we needed tonight was Carlisle dangling from Perk's leg a la Jeff Van Gundy.
  • I actually thought Perk got off light. That "shove" he delivered looked a lot like a punch to me. He's lucky it wasn't ruled as such, which would have resulted in an automatic ejection and a suspension.
  • There were some questions about Perk's technical foul count. For those who don't know, the count resets for the playoffs. So that's officially his first one of the postseason. The magic number is seven to get suspended. After seven it's every other tech, so nine, 11, 13, etc.
  • Carlisle on the skirmish: "The dirty bull**** has got to stop. We don’t want anybody to get hurt out there either way."
  • Major credit goes to Thunder coach Scott Brooks tonight. He made the most important adjustment he needed to make tonight. When he inserted James Harden at his usual four-minute mark, he subbed Harden in for Ibaka as opposed to Thabo Sefolosha. That allowed Sefolosha to remain in the game and take the assignment on Jason Terry. Sefolosha didn't come out for the first time until 1:34 was left in the first quarter.
  • As a result of that altered substitution pattern, Terry never got it going and finished with 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting.
  • Harden did a great job on Terry, too, I thought. In that final minute and a half once Sefolosha went to sit, Harden accepted the challenge and continued to hold Terry in check.
  • The bench was absolutely terrific tonight. The second unit spurred the Thunder on a 9-0 run to end the first period and helped it balloon in the second quarter to a 19-3 spurt that led to a 42-27 Thunder lead.
  • The bench unit's ball movement was key. Those guy's had four of the team's seven first-quarter assists and got back to playing off each other, running equal-opportunity offense and making everyone a threat as opposed to watching Harden do the heavy lifting. After getting outscored 39-19 in Game 1, the Thunder's bench outscored Dallas' 32-28.
  • Derek Fisher came alive tonight and provided a glimpse of what he was expected to bring in the playoffs. He scored 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including a couple of big shots at big moments. He had a buzzer-beater at the end of the first quarter to give the Thunder a 32-24 lead after the first period, and he hit a huge corner 3 with 5 1/2 minutes remaining to push the Thunder's lead to four.
  • At one point midway through the second quarter, Fisher was leading the Thunder in scoring with eight points.
  • Perhaps overlooked in this one tonight was the Thunder's early ball security. OKC had just two turnovers in the first quarter and just four by the time it built its largest lead of the night at 16.
  • The Thunder finished with 16 turnovers, which, fortunately for OKC, the Mavs converted into just 16 points.
  • OKC did a great job throughout of scoring off turnovers. The Thunder finished with 21 points off 14 Mavs giveaways. That's got to continue because the halfcourt offense hasn't been pretty.
  • Terry didn't have a single shot attempt in the first quarter. That's how good the Thunder played him early. In Game 1, he had four and made all of them. Tonight, Terry's first field goal didn't come until 31.9 seconds were left in the second quarter...And it came following a gamble in the backcourt by Russell Westbrook that led to a break down in the Thunder's rotation.
  • This is the playoffs and, again, two evenly matched teams. Therefore we shouldn't have expected the Thunder to blow out the Mavs, especially after taking a 16-point lead with 5:55 left in the second quarter. There was plenty of game remaining. Dallas was going to make a run. Still, OKC has to do a better job of maintaining a lead. Because that one evaporated within minutes. The Thunder allowed the Mavs to promptly peel off a 17-4 run to pull within three just 3 minutes, 43 seconds after being down by 16.
  • During that Mavs run, the Thunder went 1-of-4 and turned it over twice. No surprise, three of the misses were 3-pointers. The lone make was a 17-foot jumper...another jumper.
  • Nowitzki keyed that run after getting hot during that stretch. He scored 12 of the Mavs' 17 in the run, including 10 straight. The reason: Perkins couldn't cover him on the perimeter. Dirk started lighting it up against the Thunder's big man, and OKC didn't adjust in time.
  • You could look at the glass as half full with Kevin Durant's second consecutive poor shooting night and conclude the Thunder will be fine in this series. I think it could mean trouble. Get back to me after Game 3 in Dallas. It's not like OKC won convincingly in these two games while KD struggled with his shot. Again, three points served as the combined difference despite the Thunder playing at home. My gut says that can't hold up. If KD doesn't get a lucky bounce, we're talking about the Thunder narrowly salvaging Game 2 and going to Dallas with the series 1-1 instead of a comfortable 2-0 lead. We'll see.
  • Durant is now shooting 15 of 44 in this series. That's 34 percent. Adding insult to injury, he had a game-high seven turnovers tonight and only one assist. He was forcing shots tonight and making poor decisions throughout. He just looks confused out there right now, although some of his looks are indeed good but just aren't dropping. But you have to credit Shawn Marion as well for the job he's done on Durant. It's like Durant is rushing his shots even when they're open because he's afraid Marion will close and contest.
  • Speaking of Marion, he throws up some of the ugliest mess ever but somehow gets them to go in. I'm talking bank shots from straight on. Good thing for OKC that his 3-pointer wasn't falling tonight like it was in Game 1. He made just 1-of-4 from downtown.
  • Marion did make the Thunder pay on the defensive glass tonight. He got four of the Mavs' 12 offensive boards, which helped Dallas outscore OKC 17-6 in second-chance points. The Thunder has got to continue to focus on closing out possessions with rebounds.
  • Carlisle said before the game that Rodrigue Beaubois could get more playing time as this series marches on. After not playing in Game 1, Beaubois made his series debut with 5:48 remaining in the first half tonight. He went scoreless on 0-for-1 shooting with one foul, effectively being a non-factor. But he's a guy I'd be concerned about having a big game before it's all said and done, especially as the series shifts to Dallas.
  • The third quarter had some very questionable officiating. The Thunder was called for five fouls in the first 3 minutes, 10 seconds, putting Dallas in the bonus for the remainder of period's 8 minutes, 50 seconds. It helped keep the Mavs in it, as they made 10 of 10 foul shots in the period. But it went both ways, as the Thunder got to the line 13 times and made 12.
  • Most costly for the Thunder in that opening three minutes was Ibaka picking up two fouls in 35 seconds. It gave him four and forced him to sit for the remainder of the period. In Ibaka's place, Nick Collison did a terrific job of holding Nowitzki in check in the third.
  • Another costly whistle was Sefolosha picking up his fourth foul and having to sit with 6:12 remaining in the third, the exact time Terry was checking in.
  • In the third quarter, there were a combined 16 fouls called and 23 free throws attempted. It's clear the refs talked at halftime about cleaning things up. But they went a little overboard.
  • Collison fouled out with nine minutes left. Kind of says it all.
  • Somebody made a paper plane out of the the clapper thingys the team handed out tonight and let it fly late in the fourth quarter. It probably wasn't the best idea, but it was a sharp-looking plane and it had some major airtime, gliding right over the court before scaring the hell out of two young ladies and nearly putting their eyes out -- which is why it probably wasn't a good idea to begin with.
  • There are no words for the continuation Dirk got with 5:12 remaining. And at such a pivotal point in the game? It cut a four-point lead to one.
  • Yet KD's toss as he was falling out of bounds with 50.4 seconds left wasn't a shooting foul. Go figure.
  • For as bad as Durant was offensively tonight, he actually had a beautiful hockey assist that led to that Fisher 3 with 5 1/2 minutes left. Durant made a pinpoint pass out of the post against Delonte West to Harden, who then swung it to Fisher for a wide open look.
  • In the end, the Thunder won this game at the foul line. OKC made 37 of 39 free throws. The Thunder made 11 of 12 in the fourth quarter and went 6-of-6 in the final 50 seconds. Sometimes, that's what it takes. The offense missed five of its final six shots and the charity stripe was enough on this night. But there are still things that need to be corrected before the Thunder can relax. This series is far from over.
  • Up next. Game 3 at Dallas on Thursday.
-DM-

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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