Starting halves: F
The Thunder didn't score on its first five possessions of the game and its first five possessions of the second half. Its second basket of the game, a Serge Ibaka putback, came with 4:34 left in the first quarter. Here's an idea: Scrap the pregame speech and play that Keira Knightley clip from “Pirates of the Caribbean” that the Thunder plays at home games to get them fired up.
Basket protection: D
In the first half, the Mavs made 16 2-pointers. Four were dunks, four were layups and two were alley-oops. And it wasn't like the Thunder was shutting down the 3-point line. The Thunder defense was better in the second half.
Defending Dirk: B
The numbers were awesome, holding Dirk Nowitzki to 18 points on 7-of-21 shooting and seven turnovers, including a first half of four points, 2-of-5 shooting and four turnovers. But if any of that success came at the expense of leaving the basket free, it wasn't worth it.
Handling fame: F
The Thunder bench's remarkable performance in Game 2 brought well-deserved recognition to James Harden, Eric Maynor and Daequan Cook. In Game 3, they combined for seven points, all from Harden, who didn't score the first 31 minutes of the game. Maynor didn't play in the second half.
Russell Westbrook: B
Westbrook was part of the slow start, but he heated up quickly. For a team void of offense, his numbers were of paramount value — 30 points, 8-of-20 shooting — despite just four assists to seven turnovers. Westbrook's play in the final three minutes hurt. He took a hurried 3-pointer with 2:54 left and the Thunder down 84-78, then lost the ball out of bounds with 2:02 remaining and the same score. But Westbrook overall played valiantly for someone under the kind of scrutiny he's faced.
Kevin Durant: C
A horrible shooting night — 7-of-22, 0-for-8 on 3-pointers — but give Durant credit. The rest of his game continues to improve. He had 12 rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots.
The Thunder brought out heavy hitters, by OKC standards, for pregame pomp. Kevin Ollie, a classy backup point guard on the second Thunder squad and now a UConn assistant coach, delivered the prayer. Hanson, the Tulsa-bred '90s pop band, sang a solid anthem.
Second-chance points kept the Thunder in the game, to the extent it was in the game the first three quarters. The Mavericks had just nine offensive rebounds to the Thunder's 14. The Thunder outscored Dallas 17-5 in second-chance points. Tyson Chandler did hurt OKC with six offensive rebounds.
Fourteen minutes into the game, Dallas led 35-12. That the Thunder made it interesting in the final minutes is a testament to the faith of youth. It was a 14-point game with 8 1/2 minutes left, but a six-point game with 5 1/2 minutes left. Play with that kind of urgency from the start, and the Thunder still has a chance.