Well, that was kind of a terrible loss.
Not in the sense that losing to the Mavericks should garner shame. Dallas has a pretty excellent squad and is absolutely a legit contender in the West. Losing at home is never good, but dropping a game to the 9-4 Mavericks isn’t something you should break living room furniture over.
HOWEVER. The way the Thunder lost this game is what’s so souring. The Mavericks closed the game on a 31-13 run that included a 13-0 spurt that turned a seven-point Thunder lead into a three-point deficit. But that’s not where OKC blew this one. The Thunder lost with seven minutes left in the third quarter.
How? Because that was when the door was open to put the game away. Dallas couldn’t hit a shot to save its life, missing seven consecutive attempts from the field while going five minutes without a bucket. The Mavericks looked tired, helpless and completely willing to roll into a ball and take their whipping. Except Oklahoma City didn’t put it on them at all. The Thunder meagerly pushed out to a six-point lead and eventually got it to 11, but the opportunity was missed. What should’ve been a 15 or 20-point lead was just 11 and the Mavericks had no problem coming back from it. They immediately put up seven straight points, cutting the game to four, setting up their massive 36-22 fourth quarter.
The real shame is that for the first 34 minutes or so of the game, the Thunder looked really, really good. The offense clicked like crazy in the first half with Russell Westbrook cranking out a stellar first 24 minutes. The team had 19 assists at the intermission with Westbrook tallying nine. For the game though? The team finished with 27 and Westbrook 11. For whatever reason, it all kind of went to poo out of the locker room.
Same for the energetic, enthusiastic defense too. Yeah, OKC gave up 55 points in the first half, but the Thunder really worked. Every shooter was closed on, every passing lane had a hand in it and every time a Dallas player tried to drive, he was stopped. The Mavericks put up points because they went 17-20 from the line in the first half, but the Thunder defense was solid. Again, it was MIA in the second. For whatever reason.
- So, why does the offense dissolve? I don’t really know, except for it’s obvious that we morph into a jumpshooting isolation team in the second half a lot of times. It’s almost like watching a college football team trying to upset a better opponent after getting a big lead. The Thunder tries too hard to keep the foot on the pedal. Then that doesn’t work so they turn into a ball control, possession-by-possession team, but the other guy still creeps back. They just can’t seem to stick with what’s working for a full 48.
- One small bother I have with Kevin Durant: When OKC is down by seven or eight points late, KD tries to hit 7-pointers on every possession. He’s certainly capable of hitting big 3s, but instead of getting a quality look with 2:30 left, Durant is chucking a walk-up 3 with 19 on the shot clock. Sometimes it works (see: Utah Jazz game last season). But most times, it doesn’t. And yes, writing about something I don’t like about Kevin Durant was like punching myself in the face repeatedly.
- There appeared to be a huge momentum turner in the fourth quarter when OKC went up seven, 90-83. Nick Collison made a very Nick Collison play getting a hand on a rebound, which Jeff Green made a great save on which led to a Durant layup. It all happened because Collison made a classic play that doesn’t show up anywhere but on the game tape. Mrs. DT had a good line: “It’s not the kind of play that gets you in the box score, but it gets you a contract extension.”
- However, after that play, the Mavs called timeout and ripped off 10 straight. Dirk Nowitzki actually tied the game in two possessions, hitting a 3 and then converting a four-point play on the next trip. Ugh.
- Jeff Green in the first half: 14 points. Second half: three. And he finished with just two rebounds. He was productive and very helpful, but this was a classic Green game. Where’d he go? I thought he actually played quality defense on Dirk for about three quarters, but when the ball stopped moving for OKC, Green stopped scoring. And then Dirk went off.
- Durant had 32 points on 12-20 shooting plus 11 rebounds and five assists. It was certainly a nice game, but it was a weird 32. It didn’t feel like KD was involved in the game really at all in the second half, despite him scoring 15.
- Dallas killed OKC on the glass, 49-36. Tyson Chandler went 18 rebounds including seven offensive. Which makes you look at Serge Ibaka who played just 22 minutes. Gotta feel like he needed more time out there in a game where OKC was getting mauled on the board, no?
- The tables were turned on the Thunder. Dallas went 30-34 from the line to OKC’s 17-23.
- James Harden would’ve been helpful in this one, except he only put up four points in 16 minutes.
- The Thunder being 5-4 at home kind of doesn’t make sense to me. OKC has had a pretty tough early home schedule, but still, it’s weird.
This one really feels like it was completely given away. OKC is putting things together and after winning five straight it’s hard to be that upset about a loss. That sort of stuff happens. But it should’ve been six. At home, playing an older team on the second night of a back-to-back – there’s no reason to lose there. Against a lesser opponent, OKC would’ve walked away with a six-point victory and while we’d all have noticed some of the issues, they’d ultimately be forgotten because we won. But when you mess around against a good team, you get burned. And that’s what happened in this one.
Next up: OKC heads to Indiana to play the Pacers Friday.