In Dirk Nowitzki's second game back, he came off the bench yet again. He had an immediate impact on both ends, scoring right away and dragging in rebounds. The rest of his team had some kind of a fire lit under their collective asses, showing all kinds of energy that's been missing the last few weeks. In the first quarter, starter Darren Collison scored 14 points, and Chris Kaman had seven. Dallas led the whole way.
The second quarter started with an odd lineup including Dominique Jones, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Vince Carter. All three had positive contributions, none more notable than DoJo's thunderous dunk on Hasheem Thabeet. He managed to finish the play with Thabeet's arm making contact with his face. I'll be surprised if that's not a Top 10 play. Despite no starters on the court, the Mavericks were able to add to their lead. Even Jae Crowder got in on the action with the elusive four-point play.
Oddly enough, when the starters + Dirk came back in with about half a quarter to go, they started to lose steam. Dirk missed a few of his patented turnaround jumpers, and not a single Maverick could find a defensive rebound. Even Collison, who started red-hot, lost his touch a bit. Dallas allowed Oklahoma City to climb back in and held just a two-point lead going into halftime.
Coming out of the halftime break, Dallas had themselves a nice spurt. A 10-0 run, to be precise. Darren Collison turned on the afterburners and looked like a top-tier point guard. His success began to permeate the rest of the starters and we got to see O.J. Mayo and Dirk both hit threes as the quarter wound down. Dirty turned it on in the waning moments, and DoJo nailed a buzzer-beater three to make the score 81-73 going into the final period.
The Thunder are still every bit as good a team as we thought they were, and they started to shoot their way back into the game. A couple of three-pointers got them to within four, but veteran Vince Carter drained a few threes of his own to stop the surge. But like I said... it's the Thunder. We didn't think this would be easy, did we? Kevin Durant played like his normal absurd self and led the charge back to a one-point deficit.
With just under two minutes, Kevin Durant scored after a Mavericks turnover out of bounds and took the lead for the first time since they scored in the opening moments. There were a few confusing possessions on both ends, but the Thunder kept pulling in their own offensive rebounds and Mayo tried to be the hero at the exact wrong time. He turned it over into the hands of Westbrook, who called a time out with five seconds. On the inbound, Durant was fouled and hit both shots to give the Thunder a three point lead.
With just over three seconds left, the Mavericks inbounded the ball and Marion found Collison as time expired... who launched a three off of one foot and somehow hit it before the buzzer. Overtime.
Not much good happened in the final five. Collison scored a few more, but Mayo turned the ball over and then couldn't hit free throws (missed two of three on a three-point foul). Westbrook hit a couple of his own free throws to make the lead four with 20 seconds left. Carter tried a three from about six feet behind the line and missed, and Ibaka hit a pair of free throws to ice the game. That one hurt.
A few bullets:
- Dirk went 1-7 in the first half, playing 12 minutes. His shot looked ever so slightly off, and hit the back of the rim more than once. He got his feet under him a bit more as the game went on, finishing with nine points and six rebounds.
- Mavs shot 52.2% in the first quarter, then 24% in the second quarter. Despite that dropoff, they held the lead until the final minutes of regulation.
- Dominique Jones' buzzer-beater at the end of the third was just his second made three in his NBA career.
- Dallas scored 36 points in the third, which amounted to their highest output this season.
- Mayo had six turnovers in the game and missed two of three free throws in overtime. Not his game, kids.
- Shawn Marion deserves mention for his 14-9-7 game. Not a triple-double, but a really solid line that often goes unnoticed.