Following Dirk Nowitzki's 18-point, seven-turnover performance in Game 3, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle questioned how legal the Thunder's defense on his star forward is.
“They're making a great effort on him,” Carlisle said. “Now I don't know, in terms of legal limits; I believe the line may be crossed at times. If so, the league will see that.”
Carlisle then credited Thunder forward Nick Collison for his defense on Nowitzki.
“Collison, again, is another guy that's extremely underrated as a player,” Carlisle said. “He's so important for them, and he does so many things at both ends of the court. I watched him during the whole Memphis series and the job he did on (Zach) Randolph when they really needed to guard him, he guarded him one-on-one. So you're talking about a guy who's one of the best post defenders really in basketball. He's proven that in three playoff series now.”
Led by Collison, the Thunder held Nowitzki to 7-of-21 shooting in 36 minutes.
“He didn't have a good shooting night by his standards, and Oklahoma City had a lot to do with it,” Carlisle said. “They were very physical and they made it tough for him.”
PERIMETER SHOOTING NOT WORRISOME
The Thunder missed its first 16 3-pointers Saturday before finishing 1-for-17 from behind the arc.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks, however, didn't view that 5.9 percentage as much of a problem, largely because the shot selection wasn't poor.
“Out of those 17, I think maybe three were not good ones,” Brooks said. “But we still have to step up and shoot it.”
BENCH PLAY KEY
In the first three games of this series, the team with the better bench has come away victorious.
In Game 1, Dallas' reserves outscored the Thunder's 53-22 and sparked the Mavs to a 121-112 win. In Game 2, the Thunder's reserves outscored the Mavs' 50-29 to key a 106-100 win. And in Game 3, Dallas' bench outscored OKC's 28-16 to take a 93-87 decision.
Collison on the Thunder trying to recover from a 23-point deficit: “You need to be almost perfect at that point when you get that big of a hole.”