All-Access Donuts: OKC 106, Mavs 100 In G2
DONUT 1: THE TOP STORY: Dallas holds Kevin Durant to a manageable 24 points on 11-of-23 shooting, sees Russell Westbrook mothballed on the bench for the entire fourth quarter while Eric Maynor was excelling in his place, and get a major lift from Tyson Chandler in the form of 15 points and 13 rebounds as Dirk Nowitzki leads all scorers with 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting … and loses?!
You may complain about the officials, and what felt like a handful of questionable calls that seemed to lean in a Thunderous direction, but the free throws evened out as OKC attempted 26 in comparison with the 24 Dallas took.
This came down to more than a few instances of sloppy basketball at both ends of the court from the Dallas Mavericks. At the offensive end, no one may have had a rougher road than Jason Terry, who totaled as many turnovers (three) as made field goals … and for the first time since Game 4 against Portland, the Mavs bench was outscored by the opponent's bench: 50-to-29.
In the end, what should be categories falling in the favor of Dallas were paraded on the shoulders of the Thunder's success: bench production, execution in the closing minutes and defense.
DONUT 2: THE BENCH TOOK A SEAT: Perhaps we've been spoiled by his play in the first two rounds as he's led the bench to the higher ground of every matchup, and in the last eight games is a 20-points-plus guy, but that Jason Terry lost his way in Game 2 against the Thunder.
In Game 1, he was able to reach his stated goal and outperform the entire Thunder bench, outscoring the entire group 24-to-22.
"That's what I do,'' he said then.
In Game 2, the only player to leave the bench and play at least two minutes for OKC and not outscore Terry was Nick Collison, who posted six points, but added seven rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
Terry finished with eight points on 3-of-9 shooting, one assist and three turnovers. In the fourth quarter he was 0-of-4 from the floor and 0-of-2 behind the arc for zero points … and provided no other stats.
There was no "licking my chops'' here, as Jet characterized himself due to the Dirk double-teamshe figured would provide him open looks.
There is instead "licking his wounds.''
In the fourth, as Dirk did his best to carry the Mavs to a victory with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and that one costly missed free throw that will outshine them all in the mind of the UberMan, the rest of the team contributed only eight points by hitting just two of their 12 shot attempts. JJ Barea was the only player not named Dirk to hit a field goal, and was responsible for six of those eight points … the only other two coming on a pair of DeShawn Stevenson free throws.
"I can't remember the last time we lost the battle of the bench," JJ Barea said. "It was going to happen at some point and it happened tonight and I give them a lot of credit. They were more aggressive and they made more big shots. Their bench just played better."
When you go down the list of bench players, there isn't a position you could mark down as a victory for the Mavs. In fact, let's perform a little exercise …
DONUT 3: US'N VS. THEM'N: Exercise this …
Backup Center: Nick Collison outplayed Brendan Haywood, as Big Wood entered early foul trouble that would limit him to eight minutes and grant him more personal fouls than anything else … four fouls, two points, one rebound and one block … some Ian Mahinmi forced into action … and even in the category Big Wood tallied the highest number, fouls, he came in beneath Collison's mark (Collison fouled out in the final moments).
What Big Wood is getting national attention for is this …
And indeed, that was one of many OKC sparks that lit fires. On this one, what was an 11-point Dallas edge with two minutes left in the first quarter became a five-point deficit three minutes into the second quarter because the Thunder scored on eight straight possessions following the Durant highlight.
But we have no problem with Haywood getting out-athleted while playing help defense on KD. Our problem is that he got outplayed by Nick Collison.
Backup Point Guard: JJ Barea may have had the strongest game of the Mavs bench players. Yet, for most of the game he was severely outsone by Eric Maynor.
Their stats: Maynor finished with 13 points, two rebounds and one assist, but also came up strong in an area Barea could not … getting the ball in the hands of his team's best player.
Barea had 11 points, three rebounds and four assists.
On the positive side, Barea is the only bench player who can begin to make the argument that he matched his counterpart from the Thunder bench … though it would be hard not to come out of that debate with Maynor as the clear victor, as he exposed Barea's defensive deficiencies and steered the game in his team's direction with greater precision.
Maynor looked a little shaky at times in the final moments against Dallas' trap; the presence of J-Kidd can do that to a youngster. But he was competent enough to allow Scott Brooks to stay with him as the closer – which meant a benching of Russell Westbrook.
This is significant, by the way, and bears watching. They BENCHED an All-NBA point guard! How is this different from, say, New Orleans benching Chris Paul? We suppose it's only a problem if Russell says it's a problem.
Russell, is it a problem?
"Not when we're winning,'' he said. "I'm good.''
Probably so. But we'll testify to what we saw as it was happening, down on the OKC bench: Westbrook was miffed. Steamed. And pouting. He didn't seem interested in being in on some team huddles. So ... bears watching.
Sixth Man or Primary Bench Scorer: In what may be the most lopsided of the comparisons, James Harden dominated Jason Terry in every possible way. Both players took nine field-goal attempts, only Harden was one point away from tripling Terry's point production: 23-to-8.
As Terry matched his number of made field goals with turnovers, Harden did not commit a single giveaway.
He went all Teddy Pendergrass on Jet, getting the green light from Brooks to do whatever he wished … and Jet's only retaliation was (yet another) BBIQ brain cramp, a shooting foul handed Teddy while he was launching and making a 3 to end a period. (Details in a moment.)
With this important matchup falling so prominently in the favor of one team, it's not hard to understand how the Thunder found their way to a six-point win.
Secondary Bench Scorer: Peja Stojakovic didn't exactly play poorly, and he continues to have an impact beyond his numbers as he helps Dallas spread the floor, yet he was matched in direct production by Daequan Cook, despite the fact that Cook played three less minutes and took half as many shots.
The Stats: Peja had eight points on 3-of-6 shooting, including 2-of-5 from deep, but did add a block and a beautiful, if surprising, steal from Westbrook.
Cook finished with eight points on 3-of-3 shooting.
Perhaps it can be summed up no better than simply going back to the last line of Barea's quote above: "Their bench just played better tonight."
Or, you can go with what James Harden had to say.
"When the first unit came out and the second unit went in we kept (the energy) up and that was the difference."
Or, how about a line from Rick Carlisle:
"Their bench was dominant when they played." Get the point?
DONUT 4: ANY DEFENSE OF THE DEFENSE?: "You know, scoring 100 points in a playoff game should be enough to win," Carlisle said, "but, not if you're giving up 106 or 112. It's just too much."
After not allowing a team to reach the century mark through the first two series, Dallas has allowed the Thunder to exceed it in consecutive games. For a team that has shown pride in the ability of their defense to constrict for crucial moments, the Mavs have not been able to slow Oklahoma City when they've needed to most.
With 8:02 remaining in the fourth, Dirk pulled the Mavs within a single point, and Harden was given a clear look at a 3 (Jet confusion?) that he calmly drained to push the Mavs back down four.
A Barea trey with 6:59 left again closed the gap to one, and the Thunder responded with an 11-2 run that pushed the lead to 10 with 3:15 to play.
The offense was struggling to find its footing, finding none outside of Dirk Nowitzki … and the defense only slicked an already slippery slope.
Here's your official NBA highlights package ...
DONUT 6: VETERAN EXPERIENCE EXECUTED RATHER THAN EXECUTING: One area that almost all onlookers agreed upon in analyzing this series was the fact that Dallas' experience should provide them with the tools to out-execute the Thunder when the game reached its most crucial of moments.
Instead, with the deficit cut to six and 1:30 to play, we watched a Jason Kidd pass zip though a space evacuated by Terry and sail into the crowd.
We saw Dirk Nowitzki stripped by Collison, and we saw Terry vanish … well, vanish when he wasn't again fouling another player in the final seconds of a quarter on a three-point attempt. This time it was Harden, who also drilled the attempt, earning a four-point play and stealing the lead from the Mavs heading into the final period: 77-76.
Throughout the night, as quarters closed, it was the Thunder closing them. This wasn't supposed to be up for debate. Of all areas, this was the one in which veteran experience was supposed to pay its largest dividends.
Regardless of what it should have been, Dallas fell short when the points at both ends were at their highest premium. Dallas was outscored 29-24 in the fourth.
"We just didn't have it," Dirk said, "couldn't get the stops we needed. We're usually a great fourth-quarter team. We get stops. We go out and run and execute on the offensive end, but those couple of minutes right there where they went up eight or ten, that was killer."
DONUT 7: THERE WAS SOME GOOD, RIGHT? As is often the case, the biggest bright spot came from the play of Dirk Nowitzki.
After being lost in the shuffle in a third quarter that saw Dirk attempt only two shots, missing both, and go scoreless – OKC did a nice job clutching and grabbing Nowitzki on the pick-and-roll so there was no roll, no pop and all stagnancy -- The UberMan reemerged as a force in the fourth. That's when he got 16 of his 29 points on 7-of-10 shooting … but there was that one turnover … and that one missed free throw.
With 36.7 seconds to play, Dirk drew the at-the-arc foul and headed to the line for three, and the chance to pull the Mavs within a single possession. He calmly found nothing but net on the first attempt, his 39th consecutive make from the line, a streak that began in Game 2 in Los Angeles … and all things were about to organized into their rightful places in the Mavs Universe.
And then, the second shot bounced out – how weird that rim must've felt, being actually touched by the leather from a Dirk shot -- leaving the Mavs down four … and they would not score again.
Dirk finished with a game-high 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting, five rebounds, five assists and three turnovers. But the room on the right elbow wasn't there this time, as it was in Game 1, when he scored 48. OKC used a sort of hybrid defense, with the center shading to Dirk's side, his man sometimes fronting him, and a guard swooping in from behind to curtain Dirk's spins … and yet he scored 29.
And yet again, you are left wondering if he really needs 19 more than that to get Dallas over the hump.
DONUT 8: NOW PERKINS LIKES CHANDLER A LITTLE LESS: "(Tyson Chandler) don't like me and I don't like him," Kendrick Perkins said. "That's pretty much how it's been."
In Game 2, the two consistently battled for rebounding position, and often seemed to share words, but tempers were avoided and no technical fouls were handed out to either … oddly enough, it was Durant who picked up the games sole tech, which he earned for taunting after posterizing Brendan Haywood.
Chandler didn't buy into the war of words, but dominated the war on the court. He finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds, including six at the offensive end. Compared to the uneventful four points and four rebounds Perkins gave, this was a landslide victory in favor of the Mavs.
Is Perk a jerk? Nah. He just plays one on TV. In fact, here he wasn't even allowed to do that. Kendrick was a non-factor, Brooks tiring of watching his earthbound defense against Chandler's succession of pick-and-roll alley-oops.
So Perk played the role of a jerk … while sitting over there on the bench.
Let's hear from TY on Dallas' "lack of concentration'':
DONUT 9: MAVSELLANEOUS: Game 3 is Saturday in OKC. DallasBasketball.com will be at the game, of course, and our Mike Fisher will also co-host the TV postgame show with Ric Renner on FS Southwest … We engaged in a press-row debate about the value of D-Steve late in the game. "Stevenson is doing the best job on Durant of just saying in his stance and just making it tough on him," says Carlisle, so there. Except ... We thought Kidd did a fine job, too, of not letting KD ever dribble-drive around him. ... Sefko reports that Mavs owner Mark Cuban was barking at an NBA exec at halftime about the officiating. So see? Tony Cubes is quiet lately – but he's no mute … Says Dallas Tyson Chandler: "I feel like we've got the best bench in the business,'' adding that the group will take the "challenge'' of being better in G3 … "It's not one play that cost us the game,'' Terry said. "It was our all-around aggression (and failure to) maintain that for 48 minutes." ... Not only did the Thunder seal the deal with a lineup made up of Durant and a bunch of non-starters, it was also a form of SmallBall with KD essentially playing the 4 – and Dallas never quite got around to attacking him and taking advantage of potential foul trouble ... In terms of scoring, Jet and JJB were each in the same range (low 20's) as the entire OKC bench in Game 1. This time? Harden was the "single-handed'' one as his 23 erased the 8+11 = 19 of Jet and JJB combined ... Brooks: "Russell is an incredible player, he's our starting point guard, but we weren't getting a lot of things done. And his time was to come out, and I stayed with Eric." ... Durant doesn't just wear that backpack to be cute or funny. Or to carry stuff in, though he says he totes with him his Bible and three phones. No, as you might've figured, it's all a promo for the Nike KD backpack that you'll soon be able to buy for 90 bucks. ... Dumbest angle of Game 2: That Dallas' loss renders meaningless its win in Game 1. Really?! So the Mavs shoulda gone ahead and lost Game 1, because it was meaningless and all? Dopes. ... Shawn Marion, hit some of those puppies, will ya?
DONUT 10: THE NUMBERS GAME: Let's crunch …
*OKC hit 11-of-17 shots in the fourth quarter, good for 64.7 percent, and added 3-of-5 behind the 3-point line.
*Outside of Dirk, who hit 7-of-10 shots in the fourth, Dallas was a combined 2-of-12 (16.7 percent).
*Meanwhile, Durant and his bench mob made 11-of-17 shots in the fourth (64.7 percent).
*In their history, Dallas is 5-5 in best-of-seven series when splitting the first two games.
*The Thunder bench outscored the Mavs 50-29.
*The loss snapped a franchise-high seven-game winning streak in the postseason … it was also the first home loss for Dallas in these playoffs.
DONUT 11: THE QUOTEBOARD: From Rick:
"A seven-game series is long. A lot of things go on. A lot of emotions going on. When you win, you feel jubilant. When you lose, it's really tough. ... Our guys have a belief in each other. This is tough. This is disappointing. We've got to circle the wagons and adjust where we need to adjust.''
Here's Rick, Dirk, Durant and more ...
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD: Through two games of the Western Conference Finals, the Mavericks have yet to put together a truly strong game as a team. Despite what some national media outlets may have reported after Game 1, a contest with Chandler, Peja and Kidd combining for nine points on 3-of-13 shooting while giving up 112 points is not the Mavs performing at their optimum level.
The crowd will be fired up, and home-court advantage has slipped away. The time is now to respond and reclaim it with a win in Oklahoma City.
"Yeah, they have the momentum," Dirk said. "So, we've got to go up there in a tough environment and a very loud building and execute and play Mavs basketball and get back to getting some stops like we did in the first two series, and I like our chances."
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