Final Score: Mavericks 111, Thunder 103
Points: Nowitzki with 34, Durant with 32
Rebounds: Chandler with 18, Durant with 11
Assists: Kidd with 12, Westbrook with 11
It was bound to happen, I suppose. An inevitability. You can only tempt fate for so long before your unrepentant sins come back to haunt you. Once again, the Thunder were out and running through three quarters, up by six, even pushing the lead into double digits a few times. And just like the last three games, all of the offensive flow, the great passing, the good offensive sets, ground to a halt in the 4th.
Here are some of the statistics that usually accompany a team that is performing well offensively:
- 26 points in the paint
- 19 team assists
- Westbrook 9 assists of his own, frequently threading the needle in the paint
- Durant – 17 points on 6-9 shooting; Green – 14 points on 6-10 shooting
The first half was thoroughly enjoyable. Jason Kidd and Westbrook were taking turns flying up the court and hitting open shooters for easy shots. Sure, it was only a one point lead for the Thunder at the half, but you really got the sense that Westbrook was dialed in and everything was flowing. Even if the defense didn’t step up at any point, there was a sense that Dallas, scoring only 88 points in their last game, would eventually run out of gas. Dallas had stayed in the game through superior rebounding, with 23 at the half.
Things were competitive, and then the wheels fell off once more. The difference was, this time, the Thunder could not bank on the Bucks going cold or the Wolves unable to mount an efficient comeback. Nowitzki and Co. are too good for that. The Thunder were ahead 90-83 with 7:41 left to go, and the Mavs went on a 26-3 run over the next six minutes. Dirk mounted the comeback all by himself, hitting a 3-pointer and then following it up with a second one that came with a foul and a free throw for a four point play.
During that stretch, the Thunder went 1-7, repeatedly taking shots early in the play clock and disguarding all of the good things they had done in the first half. It is remarkable how they continue to play this Jekyll and Hyde act; it is as if the 4th quarter Thunder have never even met the first half Thunder.
There are a lot of things that we can nitpick about individual performances, but what seems to be paramount now is what happens to the Thunder psychologically when there are only 12 minutes to go in the game. I think it is good that they had a game like this early in the season, because they had been getting away with the disappearing act for too long without consequence. The Mavs proved to be a good test, and it is better to get tests like this well in advance of the Final Exam.
Next Game: at Indiana Pacers on Friday, November 26 at 8:00PM