OKLAHOMA CITY -- I don't get a chance to write many datelines like that one. I've covered coming up on 100 Maverick games at the American Airlines Center, but I'm nothing close to a true beat writer who follows the team city to city. In fact, if I'm counting right, Wednesday's jaunt up into Oklahoma was only the fifth time I've been outside of Dallas to cover them.
All this is to say that I don't experience road crowds much. I view things through a Mavericks prism, considering that's the team I'm covering, so when the crowd erupts at the AAC or the arena erupts with boos after a call they deem was missed, it's a natural reaction I can go along with.
For three quarters, it was just odd. The fans didn't cheer for the right team. They went silent when Dirk hit a patented jump shot that would have rocked the AAC with applause. There was a fan behind me who would not stop yelling the entire game, holding an animated one-sided conversation with Joey Crawford despite an entire section of crowd sitting between the two.
After trailing the Mavs by 10 points early in the fourth quarter, the Thunder didn't die. Dion Waiters' corner 3-pointer suddenly turned it into a two point game. Russell Westbrook hit a jumper to tie it. On the next possession, he rebounded a miss and went baseline to baseline for a layup as if the rest of the Mavericks were stuck in a buffering YouTube video.
It was suddenly loud as hell. Our Thunder friends at SB Nation call themselves "Welcome to Loud City," after all, but this applies to any city or arena. That was my one takeaway, that if I were a player, I might just walk off the court at that very moment, realizing that this many thousands of people all jammed into one arena were rooting for your team to lose. The actual players are used it after years of gradual conditioning in front of more and more people, of course, but that doesn't take away from how hard it is to execute a play and keep playing basketball while a throbbing 130 dB of noise surrounds you.
"We survived," coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. "There were a lot of times we could have folded up -- big runs -- but everyone held the line. Everyone contributed."
Home court advantage is an axiom repeated on end in the sporting world, so much so that you can know what it means without knowing what it means. Thursday redefined what that expression means for me.
Chandler Parsons has no chill
"I'm not just a spot-up shooter," Chandler Parsons has said over and over again this season.
In the fourth quarter, Parsons attempted and made six shots, all inside the arc, including a Dream Shake-esque turnaround jumper from the high elbow with 13 seconds to go that turned a narrow one-point lead into a much more comfortable three-point one.
Parsons has a wild season. He has spent far too much of it acting as the spot-up shooter he's not. Lately, the Mavericks and Carlisle -- and Parsons himself -- has allowed him to break out of this shell. After a couple of layups, Parsons went from accessory to focal point in the fourth quarter.
The Thunder had, essentially, one plus defender getting minutes, and Steven Adams only played 24 minutes with foul trouble. The table was set for Parsons to blow up like this as they headed into the final quarter, and Carlisle knew it.
"They had a weaker defender on him," he said. "We [rolled] with it once then we rolled with it again."
But the trust was there that Parsons would produce against that weaker opponent. It paid off brilliantly.
This is a bright point of the Mavs' season
Allowing three 30+ scorers is hardly ideal. Not having a player who can slow down Enes Kanter doesn't bode well for potential matchups against Zach Randolph or Terrance Jones.
But if you can't enjoy a 135-point outing in a crucial four-point win, what's the point now, really? Things may end rather shortly in a matter of a couple of weeks, if things play out like we imagine they might. But after weeks and months of the Mavericks not being so enjoyable to watch, that game tried to cram all the missing fun into a 48-minute span. I loved it.