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Thunder edge out Mavericks, 107-101

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks lost to the OKC Thunder in another heartbreaker. Westbrook destroyed the Mavericks in the first half, ending with 35-6-6 and Kevin Durant took over in the fourth, putting up 31 on 19 shots all told. Team play kept the Mavs in it, but an inability to execute--or perhaps, team play, too---doomed them.

For a game that felt like an explosive offense against one that couldn't figure out where to go, it was shockingly even throughout. it was a one point game with 6:03 to go, a time game again with 1:20 to go. But the Thunder were getting the ball to whom they wanted, the Mavericks weren't, and that's sort of all there is to say. -

I think this is the game where, rightly or wrongly, I finally felt like Carlisle's choices were severely hurting the Mavs.Sometimes I think he makes the game way too complicated. When your team is getting burned play after play, put in your best defenders which, without Marion, are Brand and Crowder. Not James and Collison. When you're getting destroyed on the glass, get your best rebounders, which are Brand and Bernard James, not Brandan Wright no matter what weirdo matchup exploitation is going on in Carlisle's head.

Really though, It's not even the matchups, which I think are weird but I can concede Carlisle probably knows better about. There is no way, literally no way, that Dirk can't have more shots. And there's literally no way that getting it to him more and asking him to find a shot isn't a better call, regardless of forcing vs. not forcing, than some of the other stuff we're seeing.

And I don't care if Dirk's not getting to the right places, and I don't care if the offense has some sort of obscure rules that dictate Dirk will only get shots under x y z situations, and everyone's been trained to do q, and he knows that and is playing by the rules, and... I don't care.I don't. No one should. Dirk needs more shots.

He ended the night 8 of 10, 3-4 from three, for 23 points while the other starters averaged 9 points apiece and Mike James, Brandan Wright and Vince Carter all took more shots than him, two of them from the bench.. Meanwhile Durant got 19 shots and Westbrook got 23 shots. Kendrick Perkins got 2, Sefolosha got 6, Reggie Jackson got 4, Fisher got 1, Nick Collison got 5. Dirk did not take an actual shot after the midpoint of the third quarter.

No one thinks Scott Brooks is a better coach than Rick, but this is true because Scott trusts his players more than he should. And so, while the Mavericks were finding the guy cutting no matter who it was, even though it was often not someone who should be executing in those situations, Durant was pulling up for, and hitting, crazy early shot clock three-pointers. It's not great to watch. It's like Carlisle really believes that guys performing his offensive system are going to be better, no matter who they are, than whatever their actual level of offensive talent recommends them to be. And that is wrong.

It is true that playing as a team has kept the Mavericks in games they probably shouldn't be in. What are the 31-35 Mavs doing challenging the Thunder and the Spurs? But it's equally true they've lost every close game they possibly could this season because there is a reason--Carlisle may not like it--that the best basketball teams are the ones with the best individual players.

It is time for Dirk to ask for more touches, for Carlisle to realize the error of his ways and force it to them, or for the Mavs to go on losing to every team that matters for the rest of the season. That's really all there is to it. My personal opinion is that Vince Carter should sit for the last minute because he can't be trusted to do anything but take the shot, valuable as he is at all other times, and that Mike James should sit in a different arena, possibly in some other cities. That's me.

The Mavericks last possession where they had a real chance involved Vince with a godawful drive, throwing to Mike James who never looked in Dirk's direction, and ultimately a shot clock violation. Just give it to Dirk and let him create. I'm begging everything.

Anyway. On some level it was a nice effort for the Mavs, sticking in there with half as many free throws as the Thunder, with only one guy at 20+ compared to two guys with 30+, with a -12 on the glass, but not on a meaningful level.