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5 observations following the Thunder rout against the Dallas Mavericks, 122-102

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Two games below .500

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder on New Year’s Eve, 102-122. Russell Westbrook had a triple double with 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists for the Thunder. Harrison Barnes poured in 25 points on just 11 shots for the Mavericks in defeat.

Coming off a big win last night against the same team, it wasn’t a huge surprise to see the Mavericks come out a frustrating combination of slow and sloppy. The Thunder blew Dallas out early but a parade of free throws for Dallas closed the first quarter with OKC up 32-21.

The second quarter somehow got worse, though, with a parade of turnovers and missed shots resulting in the Mavericks getting down by as many as 20 points. A late three pointer from Wesley Matthews cut into the lead a bit and the Thunder led 60-43 at the half.

For a near blow out, the third period was surprisingly exciting with Dallas making a number of mini-runs and the Thunder answering right back. Harrison Barnes and Luka Doncic scored 24 of the Maverick 32 for the frame. Unfortunately, Oklahoma City scored just as many points and took a 92-75 lead into the fourth

The Mavericks chipped the lead down to 13 for a time but at some point in the fourth quarter Dallas coach Rick Carlisle threw in the towel, since the starters never returned to the floor. The Thunder kept their starting group in for most of the period and they kept the Dallas bench at bay. Dallas fell to the Thunder, 102-122.

Now, some things:

Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers

The Thunder are a long and physical team. That said, it’s preposterous that the Mavericks had 26 turnovers. The starters had 17 all by themselves! DeAndre Jordan had six! Luka had five! Dallas runs way too many plays to be this stupidly sloppy with the ball.

Speaking of plays, call fewer of them

It’s nice that DeAndre is such a vacuum on the boards but one thing he does just about every time is get the board and really think about who he wants to outlet to. Both Doncic and Dennis often call for it and Jordan looks like a guy making a poker bet during his decision. It wastes time and negates one of the best things about both players: their ability to push.

Now Dennis often just doesn’t push for reasons we don’t know. But Doncic, it seems like every time he gets the board he takes off and often enough good things happen. If the Mavericks are going to be this sloppy with the ball when they play at this pace, I honestly don’t see how they could get much worse if they sped it up.

Hot hand Harrison

Whew! Watching that guy catch and shoot is fun.

Why does Wesley Matthews start?

I’ve complained about Matthews a lot this year and I don’t want to point to anything specific right now. But I would like to know why he starts and what the Mavericks think he brings to that line up? The bench needs more shooting and the starters need a bit more energy.

The Maverick rotations do not make a ton of sense

I’m not a coach, so I’m going to tread around this lightly since I don’t entirely know what I’m talking about, but what Dallas does with their bench rotations is fairly confusing. And against the Thunder they didn’t make strange rotations as they did give up minutes into the fourth quarter. But I’ve wanted to write about this for a while, it’s New Year’s Eve, and I’m going to do what I want.

My main point of contention comes in the second half when the starters sub out and the bench unit rolls in. It’s nearly a hockey shift change with Luka Doncic usually staying on a few more possessions, though he often just runs up and down the floor 3-4 times wih Barea dominating the ball. The quarter ends and the bench begins the fourth quarter. By now, most of the bench has been in 4-5 minutes already. Coach Carlisle often plays them until the 6 minute mark before putting the starters back in.

And for the past few games, he’s often left them in a bit too long, like baseball managers can do with pitchers, and the bench gets shelled. I understand that Doncic, Smith, and Barnes shouldn’t always play 35+ minutes, but they are young guys. They need the action and they are the better players. At least do something to get one or two of the starters back on the floor early.