Mavericks Unable to Withstand the Thunder, 99-95

The Dallas Mavericks were going for the season sweep against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night at the American Airlines Center.  The Mavericks looked strong early in the game but they were unable to take advantage of timely possessions as they lost to the Thunder, 99-95. Dallas hasn't defeated Oklahoma City more than twice in a season since the franchise moved to Oklahoma City in the 2008-2009 season.  The Mavericks won the rebounding advantage, 47-45, but they where unable to lock down critical rebounds.  "I think we struggled defensively in the second half," said Coach Rick Carlisle.  "We struggled on the boards and the timely second chance points were our undoing down the stretch....we out-rebounded them by two total over the whole game, so they were really just timely plays." 

The Mavericks were led by Shawn Marion's 25 points.  Going with the trend of starting strong early and struggling late, 21 of Marion's 25 points came in the first half.  "My teammates were looking for me and the ball was coming to me and I was making things happen," Marion said on his season-high scoring performance.  "We had them on their heels and we didn't put them away when we should have."

The Mavericks came out to start the game with solid energy on both sides of the floor.  They started the game on an 8-2 run.  The Shawn Marion Show consisted of scoring inside and outside as he hit 5-6 to start the game.  Dallas was showing solid ball and player movement and that led them to scoring a majority of their points in the paint, they shot 73% from the field halfway through the first period.  Despite the offensive execution, Dallas seemed to have imposing their will on the game as they had 4 turnovers in the first quarter.  JJ Barea, Brian Cardinal and Brendan Haywood came in to finish the last 2 minutes and change of the quarter and they all had a positive influence to finish the quarter as the Mavericks had a 30-23 lead after the opening quarter.  The Mavericks finished the quarter with 18 points in the paint.

The Mavericks second unit was able to create an early ten point lead, 33-23, within the first minute of the second quarter.  It was short-lived as the offense then stalled and two quick turnovers that led to transition opportunities and got the Thunder rolling.  JJ Barea's aggression got the Mavericks back in a groove and allowed them to maintain a lead.  Barea scored all 8 of his second quarter points by the 7:30 mark of the second quarter.   "The Matrix" reloaded in the second quarter as Marion continued doing work in the paint area, specifically the left block, and scored 9 points in the quarter on 4-4 shooting from the field.  The turnover issue came up again at the tail end of the quarter.  "Our turnovers hurt in the first half," Carlisle said.  "That's where we really need to have gained more ground and put ourselves in a stronger position headed into the second half." At halftime, the Mavericks had a 55-51 lead over the Thunder at halftime.  

Dallas' offense came out in the second half sluggish allowing the Thunder to run in transition.  Eventually, that was enough for Oklahoma City to take their first lead of the game, 60-59 within the first three-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter.  The Thunder started the quarter hitting 6-8 from the field while the Mavericks shot 1-5 from the field.  Tyson Chandler recorded his third consecutive double double midway in the third quarter as he made two free throw shots.  After the Mavericks fell behind 71-63 with 4:10 to go in the third quarter, JJ Barea hit his second three-point shot of the game and Shawn Marion got a transition bucket to get the Mavericks back within 3 points with over 3 minutes to go in the quarter.  Both team's defenses took over in the last 3 minutes as the Thunder were able to take a 73-70 lead going to the final quarter.

To start the fourth quarter, both offensive units had a hard time getting going.  Combined, both teams scored three points in the first two minutes of the fourth.  Kevin Durant hit a three-point shot to give the Thunder a 78-71 lead at the 9:53 mark of the quarter. The Mavericks continued having a hard time reigniting the uptempo offense that led to 55 points in the first half.  The Mavericks fell behind the Thunder, 89-78 with 5:41 to go in the final quarter.  In the end, the Mavericks just didn't have enough in the tank to make up the double-digit deficit.  "They put together a little run and the next thing you know, we've got a battle on hands," Marion said. "They hit some shots and made it hard for us."

Quick Notes:

- The Mavericks were without Dirk Nowitzki for the sixth consecutive game due to a knee sprain.  In the pregame meeting with the media, Rick Carlisle gave the "Daily Dirk" update and stated that there was no update and that he still remains day-to-day.  The media was informed that Nowitzki will give a first-hand "Daily Dirk" update on Friday afternoon...stay tuned for that. 

- The Mavericks suffered their first defeat of the season when Chandler records a double-double, they are now 6-1.  He finished with 14 points and a season-high 18 rebounds.

- Jason Kidd went scoreless from the field (0-7, 0-4 3PT) while tying his season-high in rebounds (10).  Kidd also added 7 assists.  "I thought I had a couple shots go in, but if my game was ever judged on me making baskets I probably wouldn't be in the league," Kidd said.  "I had some good looks, they just didn't go in."  Kidd logged just under 40 minutes of game action.  "It's something I'm always looking at," Carlisle said.  With the Mavericks being short-handed, the minutes will stay up for the regulars.  It's just a matter of surviving the tough stretch. 

- The Mavericks had a 32-22 points in the paint advantage at halftime, they eventually lost that battle, 50-42.

- Dallas recorded a double-digit lead but lost the game.  They are now 22-5 when they record a double-digit lead.

- An interesting Thunder tidbit: No starting-five member of the Thunder recorded a foul in the first half.  They recorded 7 in the second half.

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