Thunder 98 Mavs 99.
Two tough Texas teams, two one point losses. Where’s the sunshine?
There really isn’t any room for big complaints or woes about the game. It was a hungry, talented Dallas team on their own home turf. Their superstar doing most of their damage, and ours doing most of ours. The difference in this game was the ten extra free throws for Dallas; we sent their guys to the line with shooting fouls. Durant and Nowitzki both had roughly the same number of free throws attempted and made, but nobody else on the Thunder took more than 4. Dallas had Josh Howard and Drew Gooden at the line 8 times and 6 times respectively. I’m not complaining here, just stating.
Kevin Durant did his 30 point thing again which is his 18th time this season and 10th time in the last 12 games, yet his shot was off tonight. Same delivery, same spots, it just wasn’t going down. I thought Shawn Marion really did a great job on Durant defensively, but that only goes so far, he can still elevate and score at will most nights, but tonight was a challenge for him and he finished up 6/18. He did get the double double though with 13 boards. More on that later.
It was pretty obvious that Dallas’ game plan defensively was to double up or even triple up Durant on most of his touches. That’s a good strategy if he can’t recognize the ploy and pass out to an open man, and that open man can’t hit the jumper. Not to overstate anything here, but the boxscore has a zero in it in the column for assists by Durant’s name. The passing game and learning to play the decoy sometimes will come with more experience. I don’t think for one second that Durant would rather pad his scoring stats than to get a win by making a great pass. That’s just not KD.
- Nick Collison had a double double tonight with 10 and 10, an assist and a block in 23 minutes. He’s really a quietly efficient super hero for the Thunder. Going into tonight he is a + 13.80 player per 100 possessions (the team is 11.38 points better on offense and 2.42 points better on defense when he is on the court) to lead the team in overall rating.
- I said I had no complaints with the outcome, but I was frustrated that Coach went with Krstic down the stretch. It was obviously a judgement call by Brooks based on matchups because the season numbers and the lineup data clearly favor Collison; in fact, Krstic’s numbers get much better playing alongside Collison; so maybe the better lineup would have been Krstic and Colly on the frontline without Jeff Green.
- I thought the defensive intensity was good most of the night. The rotations were crisp and the closeouts were good.
- Dirk Nowitzki is a wizard. He does this thing where he is either facing his man or backing him down, and he begins to make his move and he shows the defender the ball for a split second. As soon as the defender starts to take a swipe at it, that’s when he launches his shot. It seems like a calculated move to get to the line to me and it works excellent in todays NBA.
- Thabo is a top shelf defender, but he can’t guard Nowitzki.
- I mentioned Marion’s defense on KD. KD can take most forwards off the dribble, but Marion did a really good job staying in front of Durant.
- Jason Kidd really showed Maynor the old man moves tonight. On back to back possessions he took Maynor off the dribble for and AND 1 and then he backed him down in the post and used a little drop step on him like vintage Gary Payton used to do.
- James Harden had his shot dropping tonight
- Westbrook is really really impressing me with his little pull up jumper from the elbow. I used to cringe, but he’s making me a believer. He was 6/8 from 16-23 feet tonight.
- We seriously need to suggest some stickum for Ibaka’s hands. He seems to get his hands on 5 or so rebounds a night that he just can’t tuck away, and he absolutely cannot handle a pass in the paint. He did however put the ball on the floor once and hit a little righty runner.
- Maynor/Collison seem to be the only duo that actually run the pick and roll on this team. Whenever it’s Westbrook/Green or Westbrook/Krstic the big always pulls up for a jumper. Nick just goes to the hole. I’d like to see more of it.
- The Mavs took a lead in the fourth but the small ball lineup got the lead back. It was Maynor, Westbrook, Harden, Collison and Green.
- Coming out of the timeout with 38 seconds or so I didn’t like the call. Westbrook was forcing the ball to Durant out by the three point arc. I want Durant to touch the ball in crunch time, but forcing it into a double team seems like a bad idea. He drove a bit and pulled up for a brick with defenders all over him. The following possession he drove all the way to the hole and scored but the Mavs didn’t get a chance to double him. I like that a lot better.
- Kevin Durant leads the NBA in free throws made. Add 14 to the total tonight.
- Kevin Durant is 3rd in the NBA in turnovers (9 behind Monta Ellis and 7 behind Steve Nash). Add 8 to the total tonight.
Saddle up kiddies, the Heat will be in the house tomorrow.