Two up, two down.
But geez, Thunder.
Consider this: The Thunder are up 2-0 on the defending champs despite Kevin Durant going 15-44 in the two games. Think about that. They also won Game 2 despite scoring only 18 points in the paint. Think about that too.
The point is, this series is very close to being the other way around. Seriously two, maybe three plays and the Thunder are down 0-2. Dirk doesn’t miss a wide open dagger 3, or he gets the KD bounce on a baseline jumper and this one sways the other way. And of course take away the Bounce from God and the Thunder don’t take Game 1.
“We’re really just a couple of bounces away from being up 2-0,” Dirk said. “That 3 ball I had in the corner, that’s gametime.”
Last season, I’m sure both of those drop. This season, it’s been a different story in the Thunder-Mavs series. All the breaks are going Oklahoma City’s way from KD’s Game 1 winner to an iffy foul call on Jason Terry at a crucial moment to Dirk missing shots he would have never whiffed on last postseason.
But it’s 2-0, just like it’s supposed to be. I don’t know if you can feel all that satisfied with it, because these two wins haven’t done much in terms of confidence going forward. But again, the deed was done. Durant hasn’t played well — lots of credit to Shawn Marion — Russell Westbrook has carried the load and Oklahoma City’s defense has been just good enough.
“He’s been the guy that’s been killing us,” Dirk said.
Westbrook had his well-rounded offensive game going hitting the mid-range jumper, attacking the rim, creating offense by getting into the paint and most importantly, taking care of the ball. Durant scored his points because he’s awesome and that’s what he does, but he was only 5-17 for the game. Westbrook scored 29 on 10-21 shooting and made a flurry of big shots.
This series is rapidly turning into a battle as illustrated by a first half scuffle between Dirk and Perk. It appeared that it stemmed from Serge Ibaka inadvertently hitting Dirk in the face contested a shot, to which Dirk shoved Ibaka in the back. Perk, being Perk, roughed up Dirk inside which set Dirk off. And then set Rick Carlisle off.
“It’s playoff basketball. It’s physical,” Carlisle said. “We don’t like the cheap shots when they give them and they don’t like the cheap shots if we give them. That’s the nature of competition. I love hard play, clean, competitive playoff series. You throw the ball up and may the best team win. The dirty bulls–t’s gotta stop. We don’t want anybody getting hurt out there. Either way, either.”
Said Dirk: “He tried to bully me and I bullied back. We talked about some stuff and moved on.”
And Perk: “It happens. Playoffs. You get tangled up. Nothing personal, just playoff basketball … Just grown men out here playing basketball and teams trying to advance. You just out here playing. Nothing to hurt or nothing like that. Neither side going to bow down. They not, we not. So we just out here playing and competing at a high level.”
All of that seemed to go down in the first half, and the officiating crew did their best to get a hold on it for the last 24 minutes. The third quarter turned into a foul fest with the two teams combining to shoot 23 free throws. For the game, OKC went 37-39 from the line, which essentially was the difference in the game.
Call it survival, but the Thunder got it done. They showed a little of the dominance fans were craving in the first half leaping to a 16-point lead. But the Mavs fought back and once again, had a lead with 90 seconds to go. Somehow, the Thunder were the victors. That speaks highly of this young team to be able to finish out these things. Because last season, this stuff didn’t happen this way. It just didn’t. Whatever it is, the Thunder have matured to close these things out.
You can’t say it enough, but this series might just be getting started. The Mavs take it home for a pivotal Game 3. A win there puts the Thunder entirely in the driver’s seat, but a win for Dallas and things are holding to form. The bounces are going the Thunder’s way right now and they’ve made enough plays to come out on top 2-0.
- I really wish Westbrook would play defense like this all the time. He has just been terrific hounding Terry all over the floor. He’s a little overaggressive at times and gambling sometimes costs OKC, but that kind of effort is has turned him into quite the little bulldog.
- That whole thing about getting to the free throw line to get you going? I don’t think that’s exactly true. KD lived at the stripe tonight but still couldn’t hit anything. Again, Marion deserves credit because there hasn’t been a comfortable look for Durant, but a lot of these are just misses.
- Said KD: “I missed some shots that of course I would love to make, but I have faith in myself and faith in my hard work and I am always going to stay positive. I will continue to work hard like I always do and hopefully I knock some down.”
- The Thunder were lucky to survive the third quarter. They didn’t register a single assist in the quarter. And the Mavs were in the bonus with nine minutes left. But OKC got to the line themselves, made a few shots and escaped a really rough 12 minutes of basketball.
- In Game 1, the Thunder bench had 19 total points, all from James Harden. Tonight, the bench had 32, with Harden putting in just 15. Derek Fisher made it all worth it with 11 big points on 5-6 shooting, including a big time fourth quarter 3. And his defense on Delonte West and Jason Kidd wasn’t all that shabby either.
- What a flurry to finish the first quarter. And it was a rarely used lineup that did it. Berry Tramel pointed it out sitting next to me, but the group of Fisher, Cook, Harden, Collison and Ibaka is extremely rare. In fact, after some research, that group has played three total possessions all season for a gran total of 39 seconds.
- Was Nick Collison’s reverse dunklayup a great play, or the greatest play?
- Brendan Haywood is not a very good basketball player.
- After playing X-Factor in Game 1 with 22 points, Ibaka only had two in this one.
- The Thunder were hampered by some pretty serious foul trouble in the second half. Collison fouled out, Ibaka was finished with four, Perk with four and Thabo with four.
- Jimmy Goldstein was in the house tonight.
- After the game Westbrook was asked about KD’s poor shooting and he point out how Durant finished with 10 rebounds and that nobody was talking about that. KD comically said, “Thanks Russell,” into the microphone.
- Two games in OKC, two thunderstorms outside the arena, two wins. Coincidence?
Next up: Game 3 in Dallas Thursday.