This was another classic battle between the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Prior to the game the Mavs learned that next to Jason Kidd another two key pieces of their rotation, Brendan Haywood and Lamar Odom would be out tonight. The Thunder countered with Thabo Sefolosha, still uneven.
The Mavs rediscovered offense disappeared again in the second half and so their best defensive performance since six games went unrewarded. The Mavericks drop to 14-9 while the Thunder remain the NBA's best team at 17-4.
On the bright side this game proved that the Mavs are able to hold their ground against this talented bunch of youngsters even on a night when the officiating was questionable at some points. Coach Carlisle pulled his classic "I-run-halfway-down-the-court-arguing" in the fourth quarter and because the refs didn't reward it with an instant ejection, he had to prove his soccer skills only two possessions later and the refs finally granted his wish. He kicked the basketball into the stands in disbelief and made sure the fan he hit was alright before leaving the court with a standing ovation.
The Mavs tried to come back from a 10 point deficit but couldn't come closer than two points before the Thunder pulled away in the last minute of regulation.
Onto the bullets:
- The Mavs finished the game 89.62 to 99.00 in Points per 100 Possessions, which is the first time since four games they were able to hold an opponent to under 100 PP100. At the same time, it was the worst offensive performance since January, 16th at Staples. That won't do.
- You can't beat the Thunder without Dirk Nowitzki at the top of his game and tonight he was 2-for-15 and really never looked comfortable. He has now missed his last 13 (?) three pointers and Hubie Brown really seemed to feel sorry for him. This game will definitely raise the concerns around the superstar once again.
- The Mavs came out hot in the first quarter and Carter was a big reason for that, but cooled down considerably down the stretch.
- Rodrigue Beaubois had a decent line (9 Points, 4 Assists, 4 Rebounds, 1 Steal), but showed tonight, that he is far away from being a game-changer. After solid crunch-time minutes against San Antonio he couldn't deliver tonight. He topped a rough shooting night by everyone else with three airballs and went 1-for-4 at the rim, missing several chippies. On the bright side: He didn't turn the ball over in 32 minutes.
- Shawn Marion was a beast in the first half, but Kendrick Perkins rolled over his knee late in the first half. He returned and played the whole game and the Mavs should hope that he is fine going forward.
- With Dirk's absence Jason Terry tried to take over the game. He scored 25 Points and added 3 Assists and 2 Steals, but it wasn't enough. He was backup by Brandan Wright, who had another nice outing in extended minutes tonight. Terry assisted on a furious dunk late in the fourth that brought the Mavs within two.
- Ian and Delonte were the main victims of Serge Ibaka's personal block party (he finished with 10!) and went 2-for-7 at the rim.
- All things considered, the Mavs should feel pretty good about this loss. They were down three men, four when counting Dirk in, and yet were able to keep it a one-possession game until the last minute of regulation. The officiating also didn't help the case up to a point that even the ESPN guys had to admit some kind of disproportion.
- Ah well... onto the next one I guess.