Westbrook scorches in the fourth, holding off the scrappy Mavericks, 109-98
Well, that wasn’t the best game of basketball I’ve ever watched.
The Thunder and Mavericks were both playing on the second night of a back–o back, and man, you could definitely tell. The game started out sloppy for both teams. The Thunder with multiple turnovers and the Mavs missing open shots around the rim.
The Mavericks had left Deron Williams, Dirk, J.J. Barea and Wes Matthews at home in Dallas and their starting lineup was… interesting, to say the least. Consisting of Pierre Jackson, Seth Curry, Dorian Finney-Smith, Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut.
Jackson started out hot in his first career start. He was able to penetrate off screens and then either score or find an open teammate. Russ was playing pretty lazy defense on the young Dallas guard to start the game, not really fighting over screens, which allowed Jackson to find his spots. Overall, the Thunder were lackadaisical on defense, not closing out on shooters which to a lot of open 3s, and the Mavericks connected on these open looks going 9 of 16 in the first half.
For the Thunder on offense, it was all Russ early. Adams and Kanter were having trouble scoring down low. The Mavericks were doubling in the post, sometimes before the entry pass was even made, and it was really frustrating the Thunder bigs. The defenders coming over for the double team had very active hands, swiping at the ball, and this seemed to be throwing Kanter off of his normal post move routine. He was not having a good night compared to how he’s been playing offensively as of late.
The first half ended with the Mavs up 2, 55-53. This is not the way the Thunder hoped this game against a short-handed Mavericks team would go. They just didn’t look interested in the first half, I understand they’ve been on the road a lot lately and they were playing on a back to back, but you should be able to put this Mav’s team away early. The Thunder had only 6 assists in the first half and didn’t get much of anything out of their bench, that coupled with turnovers, led to an overall poor half from OKC.
Shout out to Rick Carlisle though for putting these guys in a position to compete.
The biggest story of the first half came on the Thunder bench. Enes Kanter, frustrated by his play in the first half, came over to the sideline and slammed his hand down on a chair in anger.
He sat for a minute, then got up and went to the locker room. Royce Young reported that it’s a right forearm fracture and there is currently no timetable for his return… but with that kind of injury, expect him to be out for a while. This was just an incredibly foolish move by Kanter. I understand when a guy is frustrated… but he means a lot to this team and he’s been playing well of late… you’ve got to be smarter than that. He has been so productive lately on offense and the bench unit offense completely runs through him. This is a huge blow to the Thunder’s season.
But, I’m sure we will be talking about that constantly over the coming weeks, so for now, back to the game.
The Thunder listened to whatever the coaching staff had to say at half time and came out aggressive on both ends. Russ and Oladipo (17 points on 7-17) came out hot on offense scoring 11 of the Thunder’s first 15 out of the half and the defense was more active all around.
The Thunder were finally pushing the pace. The Mavs had kept it slow in the first half and the Thunder weren’t dialing up the tempo which played right into the Mavs’ hands. Also, Adams got it going in second half and finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds. He was a lot more aggressive on offense later in the game, taking 6 of his 7 total shots in the second half
The Mavs only real offense was coming from Harrison Barnes in the 3rd. The Thunder had Roberson on him primarily, but also switched Olapido into the mix. Barnes’ game has really evolved from his 3-point specialist days with the Warriors as he’s able to score in the mid-range and in the post. It also doesn’t hurt when he was literally getting a foul call nearly every time he shot, but still, great overall night from Barnes.
The Thunder took an 87 – 73 lead into the fourth, but the bench unit, without Kanter, was unable to do anything on offense. They also allowed the Mavs a lot of open looks, and similar to the first half, the Mavs knocked them down. The Thunder brought Adams and Westbrook back in early, but the Mavs continued to fight until late in the quarter.
Russ, the recently named all-star reserve, led the Thunder down the stretch on his way to 45 points, hitting two huge 3’s and finishing with 17 in the quarter. He was un-guardable late in the fourth, especially for anybody the Mavs had to throw at him, and he sealed the deal for the Thunder.
- The Mavs have not won a game all season on the second night of a back-to-back. They are now 0-9.
- Jackson getting a start on a 10-day contract and he came out not afraid to pull the trigger from anywhere. Sucks for him that he got hurt because he seemed like he was on his way to a solid night.
- Russ said Chuck is the worst dresser on the TNT crew. Chuck didn’t appreciate that at all and said if he’s first, Russ is a close second.
- The Mavs starting lineup
- The four key guys that were out for the Mavs combine for 55 points a game. That’s a lot of scoring being missed by Carlisle and his guys.
- Thunder’s first points were on an Andrew Bogut goal tending call. The crowd still sat… what are the rules on that?
- The position that Adams is able to get in the post when he’s running down the floor is amazing. It sets up that long entry pass from Westbrook, and even the best post defenders either have to foul or hope Adams misses a close-range shot inside. It really sets up some easy points for the Thunder and showcases his overall strength down low.
- I didn’t even notice Barnes was on the floor until about 5 minutes into the game. Then he went on to score 31 on 13 of 26 shooting.
- Justin Anderson was making some absurd 3’s in the first half.
- Abrines went up to throw it down on a fast break and was fouled. I wanted him to finish it sooo bad.
- Payne gets absolutely destroyed on screens. Barnes dropped him early in the second and it led to a Pierre Jackson wide open jumper.
- Russ didn’t have many assists tonight. I think it was a combination of poor ball movement from the Thunder in the first half, a lot of missed easy ones and a lot of Russ’s would-be assists leading to free throws instead of made field goals.
- Sabonis has been getting to the line a lot more recently. I mean, he wasn’t getting there at all early in the season, so I guess that’s not really saying much, but definitely more aggressive finishing inside.
- Also, this was not a foul on Sabonis
- The refs weren’t great in this one. A lot of soft foul calls. Made it tough to watch at times… that and how sloppy play was through a majority of the game.
- Westbrook seemed to hurt his hand in the 3rd, but he came back in the game and looked to be fine.
- Love KG and ‘Sheed at halftime on TNT. I could listen to them talk forever. I wish they were calling the games instead of Reggie and CWebb.
- That’s the third win in a row for the Thunder.
- Here’s the full list of who will be joining Russ as a Western Conference All-Star Reserve.
Next Up: At Cleveland on Sunday at 2:30.