No Darren Collison miracle 3-pointer was going to save the Mavericks tonight. Unless there’s a 30-pointer that I just don’t know about.
The Thunder didn’t really come flying out of the gate or anything, but more slow boiled their way into a blowout. It really was sparked by a strong 7-0 by the bench to finish the first quarter and carried over by a 39-point second quarter that built OKC’s lead to 68-44 at the half, the most points in a half this season for the Thunder.
Two important factors led to tonight’s result: 1) The Thunder showed up very ready and eager for this one and 2) the Mavs did not show up at all.
“Tonight we came in focused,” Scott Brooks said. “We talked about two things really focusing in our film was defensive basketball, defensive toughness and moving the basketball … It’s a team passing game. It’s not a point guard’s job to pass. It’s everybody’s job to pass. I thought Serge set the tone with a swing pass that he gave Thabo for a 3. That’s what we talked about going into the game.”
To Brooks’ point: The Thunder racked up 25 assists to only 11 turnovers, and held the Mavs to 41.4 percent shooting, including just 3-16 from 3. Check one, check two.
Individually, Russell Westbrook stood out most with a rock solid 24-point, seven-assist, three-steal performance that featured him completely keeping his cool for all 29 minutes he was on the floor. I don’t say that jokingly either — he genuinely didn’t flare up once at anyone. Not at an official, a teammate, himself or an opponent. He was totally under control emotionally. Obviously don’t get used to that, but given recent events, I thought it was a very pleasant display from Westbrook.
“I seen the regular Russ. Regular Russ,” Durant said. “He was no different. Came out did his job, making shots, penetrating, playing defense, getting deflections, getting steals just being a gnat. He was swarming on he ball, he was doing everything for us. That’s the regular Russ, that’s what we expect from him every single day.”
Big positive: The Thunder locked up Dirk Nowitzki. Outside of the ultra-rare Shawn Marion offensive explosion, the Mavs didn’t have any kind of offensive answer. Serge Ibaka had the bulk of the Dirk assignment and did very good staying disciplined, just forcing him to take contested shots. Sometimes Dirk hits those, but all you can do is get a hand up and try and push him as far away from the bucket as possible. Dirk ended up just 3-11 for 10 points, eliminating any kind of major individual threat.
The Thunder are 5-4 in their last nine without any back-to-back wins in a couple weeks. Some nights they’ve been exceptionally focused and ready like against the Grizzlies and tonight. Other games, they’ve been competitive, but lacked that extra edge. What’s the deal with that?
Kevin Martin summed it up like this: “You go through stretches like this. Middle of winter, holidays are over and everybody’s a little angry. We just got to get through this All-Star break and then focus on the second half of the season.”
- KD got his ninth technical of the season. I have no idea what for either. I guess he was arguing something but really, he was more demonstrative arguing the tech than he was arguing whatever it was that earned it. After he got it he walked over to the scorekeeper and said, “That wasn’t a tech. No way that was a tech.”
- Durant on his techs: “I gotta shut up. I’m racking ‘em up man. Sometimes I get too excited and voice my opinion when I shouldn’t. I just gotta shut up and play the game … I thought this one, I shouldn’t have got a tech. I just went up and talked to him and he got me one. That goes back to the ones I got before and I guess they watch and they’re looking for them now. I just gotta shut up and play my game and just fight through it.”
- Before this season, KD had 12 total technical fouls combined. The most in a season was five, last year. And a reminder: Your 16th technical earns you a one-game suspension.
- DeAndre Liggins got no second quarter burn. He only got to play tonight because of the blowout. Something to read into or just the way the game broke?
- Maybe related to that: Westbrook and Reggie Jackson played some minutes together late in the second quarter. Those are minutes normally Liggins would’ve gotten. Brooks trying something new.
- Speaking of Jackson, really nice game from him tonight. He had eight points and six assists in 21 minutes, but really looked smooth and confident running the team.
- Casper Van Dien was featured on the big screen tonight. I think that’s pretty much the cutoff for “Famous Person To Announce At Your Game.” Also, who recognized him enough to put him on there? Someone must be a big Starship Troopers fan.
- Kevin Martin finished an oop. An alley oop. I saw it happen.
- Martin was a +31 tonight. He went for 17 on 7-12 shooting, including 3-5 from 3.
- Play in the third quarter where Thabo went for a steal but recovered to block O.J. Mayo’s 3 attempt. THAT’S why he’s an elite of elite defender.
- In 22 minutes Perk had seven points and seven boards. Very good production.
- Brooks subbed in Perry Jones III early in the fourth quarter and provided him some really great experience getting to guard Dirk for a few minutes. Nothing too notable came from it, but he at least got a quick taste.
- Thunder drummers are basically a headache waiting to happen.
- Eric Maynor scored his first points tonight since Dec. 20. Oof.
- That bounce pass KD threw to Martin.
- Daniel Orton sighting! I continue to be amazed at his stellar running posture.
- Jae Crowder hit a 3 in the third to cut OKC’s lead to 26 and immediately stared down the Thunder bench. Mo Cheeks did not like that. That possibly stemmed from an odd spat between Crowder and Perk earlier in the game. Either way, not a good look for the rookie.
- By my count, Crowder went 0-5 after he stared down OKC’s bench.
- Hasheem Thabeet took his hair in a new direction tonight, throwing a sidepart on it.
- Excellent catch by the Tulsa World’s Bill Haisten tonight: Since the 2011 Western Finals, the Thunder are 10-1 against Dallas.
- Westbrook’s favorite steal move is the one where he goes behind the ballhandler’s back and picks their pocket. It’s not one you see very many guys go for, but it’s become very effective for Westbrook.
- Ken Mauer’s hair >>>>
- Beale Street Flippers: A simple, yet excellent halftime show.
- Just one Thunder player places his hand over his heart during the national anthem (Nick Collison). All but two Mavs place their hands over their hearts (Collison, Mayo).
- Pregame Russell Westbrook was singing “Chocolate Rain” in the locker room. Postgame, he wore a button-up Duff Beer shirt and a hat that said, “Maintain the Mystery.” Complete performance from Russ tonight.
- Brian Davis Line of the Night via @ThunderBDsays: “Natural born scorers — isn’t that a movie with Woody Harrelson? Oh wait, Natural Born Killers.”
Next up: Wednesday at home against the Warriors.