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Thunder played like a team just happy to be invited to the party

by Berry Tramel Published: May 22, 2011

/articleid/3570421/1/pictures/1424016">Photo - Thunder head coach Scott Brooks reacts during game 3 of the Western Conference Finals of the NBA basketball playoffs between the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder at the OKC Arena in downtown Oklahoma City, Saturday, May 21, 2011. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Thunder head coach Scott Brooks reacts during game 3 of the Western Conference Finals of the NBA basketball playoffs between the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder at the OKC Arena in downtown Oklahoma City, Saturday, May 21, 2011. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Dallas trapped and scrapped. Bodied and banged. The Mavs played Grizzlies-style; even got Memphis-like shooting from Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry (a combined 10-of-33). The Mavs played for their lives and found their defensive mojo, which had been missing in this series' first two games.

The Mavs closed off the space that Kevin Durant found down in Dallas. Turned the vaunted Thunder bench back into pumpkins. Dallas had no real answer for Russell Westbrook's drives, because will only goes so far, but Westbrook can't beat a team by himself, not until his decision-making is pristine, which is a few years away. And the Mavs even beat up Westbrook to a certain extent.

“They were more physical at every position, I tell you that,” Perkins said. “Including myself.”

Don't let anyone — including Dallas coach Rick Carlisle — tell you his team won with its defense. It won on both ends of the court. With little help from their two primary scorers, the Mavericks were wonderfully efficient on offense.

When the score reached 35-12 after less than 14 minutes, the Mavs had made 15 of 26 shots, almost all the baskets being either 3-pointers or dunks or lay-ins that could have been dunks.

“We let our offense dictate our defense,” Perkins said. “We all just came in offensive-minded. Didn't think about getting stops. They got whatever they wanted.”

What the Mavs wanted in Oklahoma City was a series-turning victory. Mission accomplished in Game 3.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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