Collison got the next crack. But the same physicality that was assisted Collison in keeping Memphis Zach Randolph in check in the previous series was whistled a foul Tuesday. No one else came anywhere near solving the riddle. Not Durant. Not James Harden. Not Thabo Sefolosha. Not Kendrick Perkins.
“I think we've got to play even more physical early in the game,” said Sefolosha. “There's not a whole lot we can do to adjust except letting him shoot or letting him go where he wants. That's definitely not something that we're going to do.”
Nowitzki did whatever he wanted this go-round. He added six rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots to his stat line. When the Thunder made one last push, cutting a one-time 16-point deficit to six inside the final 50 seconds, Nowitzki drove and dished to Jason Terry for the game-clinching 3-pointer with 28.2 seconds remaining.
“He was hot,” Ibaka said.
The biggest adjustment the Thunder will look to make is keeping Nowitzki off the foul line. He had 13 in that third quarter alone, helping the Mavs turn a 55-48 halftime lead into a 90-79 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
“We just can't foul him as many times,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “Twenty-four free throws, that's a lot of free throws. But he earned them. We fouled him. We have to do a better job of guarding him.”
Postgame Thoughts: What did you think?
Box Score: Thunder loses to Mavs in Game 1