Game Recap: Mavericks Barely Escape Thunder, 99-98

The Okalahoma City Thunder catch the Dallas Mavericks at an interesting time in this young season.  Dallas has lost back-to-back games for only the second time this season and could easily blow the third and final game in this home stand if they sleepwalk through the first half. 

The Thunder are looking to forget Wednesday’s OT loss to the Spurs by one point and have all the pieces to do so.  They surely won’t forget the 14-point loss the Mavericks handed them at home with a second half surge.  That win feels like it was ages ago. 

Has Rick Carlisle said the right things to make the Mavericks get "dirty"?

Game as a Whole:

A win is a win, but this was definitely too close for comfort.  The Okalahoma City Thunder tried their best to win but luckily for the Mavericks, Dallas got in their way.  While it would be easy to point to Dirk’s 32-point night as the catalyst for the Dallas win, I would instead suggest we look back at defensive plays made by Erick Dampier and Josh Howard.

Dampier got a block at the 3:06 mark which ignited all of the American Airlines Center and kept the Thunder from pulling to within one.  Even though Dampier only finished with 2 blocks for the game, he saved the Mavericks four points that would have secured a win for the Thunder. 

Josh Howard gets the game ball tonight.  Jason Terry shanked two free throws that would have made it impossible for the Thunder to win the game, but thankfully Howard ended up getting a deflection on an outlet pass thrown by Kristic.  That deflection took almost a second off of the clock and ultimately meant that Westbrook couldn’t get that one extra dribble in.  

There were moments where the game could have gone to either team, but the ball just ended up bouncing the Mavericks way tonight. 

Let’s look at the quarters…

1st Quarter:
  • Dallas controls the tip. 
  • 11:39, Dampier fumbles a pass under the basket from Marion. Should we be surprised? 
  • 11:02, Dirk’s pass to Kidd is intercepted. Turnover #2 in the first minute. Dirk fouls to stop the fast break. 
  • 9:57, Kidd is fouled on his way to the basket. And he misses both free throws. 
  • 9:20, Dampier misses a layup. This looks awful. 
  • 8:50, Dampier’s pass is intercepted. Lucky the Thunder couldn’t convert. 
  • Howard gets Dallas on the board with 2 free throws. Something needs to change, and fast. 
  • 8:06, Howard decides against a 3 and drives to the basket. He misses, but is fouled on the attempt. He has Dallas’ only points. 
  • 7:38, Dampier fumbles ANOTHER pass inside from Howard. He gets it back, but before he can shoot, he takes too many steps. 
  • Gooden enters the game and draws the offensive foul. Maybe he’ll be the spark? 
  • 6:54, Gooden gets fouled from behind and makes both free throws. 
  • 6:08, Howard makes the FIRST basket of the game, a driving layup.
  • 5:40, Russell Westbrook initiates one of the worst sequences in basketball.  Can’t pass, finally passes and it gets deflected back, puts up an off balance three, shot clock expires, and there is no chance for a rebound.
  • Mavericks are in the game even though they have only one field goal.
  • Dirk gets his first bucket at 4:38. 
  • 4:01, Lazy passing by Jason Terry (no need to float a pass to a posting Dirk) leads to a turnover. 
  • 2:04, Jason Kidd gets the first three of the night for the Mavericks.  He also picks up a steal but the Mavericks fail to get any points off the turnover. 
  • 1:40, James Singleton and JJ Brea come into the game for the first time tonight. 
  • 1:26, Howard finally draws a foul after going to the basket aggressively the last two or three trips down the floor. 
  • 1:12, Carlisle, with some choice words, requests and then receives a technical foul. 
  • :29.5, Thunder are camping in the paint (rookie mistake).  Jason Terry makes the technical.
  • Howard misses the buzzer beater but grabs 10 points in the quarter.
  • Please excuse me if I am stating the obvious but has anyone ever noticed that the Mavericks half court offense features a distinct lack of "cutters"?  The lack of movement is atrocious.
2nd Quarter:
  • 10 seconds in and Terry starts the quarter off with a foul. 
  • Terry is immediately pulled in favor of Quinton Ross.  Ross picks up a foul less than a second later. 
  • 11:08, Barea gets a foul courtesy of Nick Collison.  That’s two for Collison who goes to the bench (Barea makes both free throws).
  • 10:37, Barea goes to coast to coast with a second hard drive to the paint.  Sadly, he negates that with a turnover on the next possession.
  •  8:50, Three straight drives to the rim for Barea.  He gets his second basket in the paint. 
  • 8:24, Dampier picks up his second foul on the offensive end.  Have to save those for defense Erick. 
  • 6:51, Active hands for Terry lead to a steal and layup.  Durant was giving chase after he had been pick-pocketed.  
  • Mavericks can’t seem to get the lead under 8 points. 
  • 5:32, Terry drops in the floater and then gives up a three on a late rotation, net points -1.
  • 5:00, Another quick strike basket for Terry (he hits a short jumper).
  • 4:13, Nowitzki makes only his second basket of the night.  Maybe the guys are saving the gas for the second half? 
  • 3:42, Nowitzki gets an "and 1" for his third basket.
  • 3:08, Terry for three but the Thunder answer right back.  This looks like a repeat of the Lakers game. 
  • 1:49, Shawn Marion follows a weak layup (that is rejected) with a hard dunk.  He should take it to the basket like that every time. 
  • :54.2, The Thunder are biting on every one of Dirk’s pump fakes.  He draws another foul.  
  • :16.3, Dirk draws another foul to end the quarter on the offensive end for the Mavericks. 
3rd Quarter:
  • 11:31, Erick Dampier gets a nice pass in the post and finishes with a quick move.
  • 10:50, Mavericks cut the Thunder lead to three on their second straight basket.  Unfortunately, they give up a three-point play on the other end. 
  • 8:54, 3 consecutive missed baskets before Dirk finally gets a short jumper. 
  • 8:20, Someone may want to think about double teaming Westbrook. 
  • 6:59, Jeff Green picks up his fourth foul trying to deny Dirk the ball.  Jason Terry comes back into the game. 
  • 6:36, Jason Terry with his best Jason Kidd impression (toe-on-the-line two). 
  • 6:12, Dampier finishes off a lob pass with a layup, no less, from Jason Kidd. 
  • 5:04, Kevin Durant commits the most blatant travel in an NBA game this year.  It definitely wasn’t his fault as his teammate was running directly under him. 
  • 5:02, The ball goes quickly down the court and Dirk gets the basket plus the foul. 
  • 4:17, Second back tap for Dampier leads to a Kidd three. 
  • 3:32, So much spin on Dirk’s shot that it rolls in.  Mavericks pull even with the Thunder. 
  • 2:36, Marion is playing tight defense but he picks up 3 quick fouls in doing so.
  • 2:02, Dirk gives the Mavericks their first lead of the game and Josh Howard comes back in.
  • Mavericks finish out the quarter on a strong note (fast break bucket for Marion).   
4th Quarter:
  • 11:43, The Matrix gets a runner in the line to go and the tide has turned for the Mavericks. 
  • It’s such a morale-killer when you play solid defense for 24 seconds and then give up a rebound.
  • 10:01, Dirk is back as the Mavericks are only up one now. 
  • 8:57, Dallas surrenders a 9-0 run and the Thunder are back in the driver’s seat.  Mavericks still look lost on defense.
  • 8:31, James Harden tries to hook Jason Kidd but gets called for the offensive foul.  Josh Howard throws up another brick. 
  • 8:04, The team has put together two stops.  Kidd makes a quick move to the basket and draws the foul.
  • 6:58, Back-to-back buckets by Kidd are keeping the Mavericks in the game.
  • 5:50, Jason Terry drills a three in Harden’s face.  Westbrook answers with a two. 
  • The Mavericks, for all their struggles on defense, lock down Kevin Durant.
  • 4:36, Dirk brings the Mavericks to within one on the technical foul.  Neither team seems to want to take control of the game at this point. 
  • 4:29, Dampier is fouled on the lob and makes both free throws. 
  • 3:47, Jason Terry puts the Mavericks back up by one off of a curl.  Mavericks actually get a stop on the next Thunder possession.
  • 3:06, Big time block be Dampier.  Jason Terry is fired up now.  Mavericks give up a three pointer to tie the game on the next play. 
  • 2:18, Jason Kidd throws the ball off of Kevin Durant to give Dallas another possession. 
  • 2:03, Jason Terry hits another jumper off of a screen and has returned to form somewhat in this quarter.  
  • 1:05, Marion picks up the foul on Durant (questionable call, as Marion can’t get out of the way fast enough). 
  • :49.9, A clutch shot by Nowitzki gives the Mavericks the lead.
  • :30.6, Mavericks have a great defensive sequence to end the game.  Kidd guarding Durant and Marion helping to keep the ball out of his hands until late in the shot clock.
  • Dirk makes two from the line to give the Mavericks a 3 point lead. 
  • Dirk hits a short jumper after Kevin Durant pulls the game to within one.  The Thunder do not want to let the game go. 
  • Terry misses both free throws and the Mavericks just get by with a 1 point win. 

Some Choice Statistics:

  • Mavericks go to the charity stripe 13 times in the first quarter. 
  • Lakers loss was only the 2nd time this season that the Mavericks have posted a back-to-back loss. 
  • Kidd is now fifth in the league in made three pointers (right with Glen Rice).

Closing Thoughts:

The Mavericks got the stops they needed in the fourth quarter to close out this game against a hungry Thunder team.  What cannot be ignored is what could have been a disastrous trip the line for Jason Terry.  Dallas could have just as easily lost that game if the prayer shot to end the game goes down but it didn’t have to be that way.  The Mavericks have poked their head out of the hole but they have a ways to go before they climb out.    

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