Video Visits & Your All-Access To Mavs-OKC
FOREWARD: OKC 107, MAVS 101 ...
OKC is better than Dallas over the course of the last 10 games -- all Thunder-swept. OKC is better than Dallas this year, achieving its 50th win by sweeping this year's series, 4-0. OKC is better at getting the ball into the hands of scorers; Russell Westbrook scored 35 points and KD exploded late to finish with 31. ... all of that while the Mavs failed to find a hot-shooting Dirk when they could've really used him.
By which we mean: at any time at all during a fourth quarter during which he never got a shot attempt.
In the end you get a thriller, the Oklahoma City Thunder's 107-101 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night at American Airlines Center.
VIDEO VISIT WITH VINCE ...
"He makes the right play,'' Vince said of Dirk. "He knows teams are double-teaming him and trying to take the ball out of his hands. One thing he's been great at is making teams pay and putting the onus on us … (The media) is going to have their opinion on it but against good defensive teams, that's what good defensive teams do. They try to take it out of the best player's hand and make other guys make plays."
DOWN GOES RODDY B ...
Rodrigue Beaubois exited Sunday's game after fracturing the second metacarpal in his left hand during the second quarter. The broken hand means he is out indefinitely.
Roddy B was coming off what coach Rick Carlisle called his best game "by far'' on Friday when he scored 18 points. He's not been a rotation player all year long until this weekend ... and now, with yet another injury and free agency on the horizon, his future in Dallas could be in doubt.
"I don't know what to say,'' Carlisle said. "I feel very bad for him. He has been putting the work in. He's been playing well. This is a game where we needed him. He's had some bad luck with his injuries. We just hope we can get back."
UNWELCOME MAT FOR D-FISH ...
Derek Fisher -- a Benedict Arnold character in Dallas for having "retired'' from the team earlier this year only to join OKC -- was booed when he checked into the game late in the first quarter.
Mavs owner Mark Cuban promised he'd be among the booers.
"I'll just boo him like hopefully everybody else," Cuban said before tipoff.
Cuban admits he was duped by the 38-year-old point guard.
"With his history, I shouldn't have been surprised with what happened," Cuban said. "I tried to offer him some help. I thought I offered him some positive encouragement and advice, and then we signed him. I expected a different turnout than what happened. ... It's not so much what he did. It's how he did it."
THE STANDINGS SITUATION ...
The Mavs are 31-35 and the beards haven't been trimmed. (Or at least true-to-his-word Dirk's hasn't.) The Mavs' playoff chances? Dallas is four games back of eighth-place LA. The Lakers are favored at the Suns tonight. The Mavs are four-point underdogs at Atlanta.
DIRK AND OJ AGAINST THE WORLD ...
The failure here is a familiar one: The inability, when playing a top-tier West team, to milk maximum offensive production from Dirk Nowitzki and from O.J. Mayo.
In this game, Dirk scored 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting -- but astoundingly, did not attempt a field goal in the entire fourth quarter of this close game.
"We didn't do a good job'' getting the ball to Nowitzki,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "I'll take responsibility for it."
The Mavs also didn't find a way to get production out of Mayo, who also attempted just 10 shots, making four of them and finishing with nine points. In that final quarter, these top two options combined for 0-of-1 shooting for four points. Meanwhile, OKC's Russell Westbrook scored 35 and Kevin Durant qualified as a classic fourth-quarter go-to guy with Durant 7-of-11 shooting for 19 points in the final period alone on the way to his 31 points.
How much of this lack of production represents a trend for the Mavs vs. the Thunder, which swept the season series 4-0?
*Mayo's numbers in four games against OKC: 9.8 points, 34.9 field-goal percentage, 14.3 percent from the arc, 5.3 assists, 4.0 turnovers, plus/minus of minus-8.3 (which is a plus/minus tied for Mike James for third worst on the roster).
*Dirk in four games against OKC: 15.0 points, 37.3 percent shooting, 30.8 percent from the arc, 6.3 rebounds, 1.0 turnovers, plus/minus of minus-7.8 (plus/minus ranks just behind Mayo).
And remember, all that is a jump up from where Dirk was before Sunday, when his numbers included a 12.3-point average on 26.8-percent shooting.
And to be frank, the trend extends beyond just OKC and all the way through the top-tier teams in the West.
Consider Mayo's numbers against other contenders:
*Mayo's per game averages in four games against the Spurs: 9.8 points, 37.5 percent shooting, 0.0 percent from the arc, 4.3 assists, 1.8 rebounds, 2.8 turnovers, plus/minus of minus-17.5 (second worst of Mavs in those games)
*Mayo's per game averages in three games against the Grizzlies: 10.7 points, 38.7 percent shooting, 50.0 percent from the arc, 3.3 assists, 2.7 rebounds, 3.7 turnovers, plus/minus of minus-4.7 (third worst of Mavs in those games)
*Mayo's per game averages in two games against the Clippers: 14.0 points, 37.0 percent shooting, 10.0 percent from the arc, 5.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 2.5 turnovers, plus/minus of minus-5.5 (6th worst of Mavs in those games)
Now Dirk's averages against the West's other top clubs:
*Dirk's per game averages in four games against the Spurs: 13.0 points, 41.9 percent shooting, 44.4 percent from the arc, 6.5 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks, 1.0 turnovers, plus/minus of minus-8.8 (eighth worst on the Mavs).
*Dirk's per game averages in two games against the Grizzlies: 13.5 points, 47.4 percent shooting, 75.0 percent from the arc, 5.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1.0 steals, 1.5 turnovers, plus/minus of plus-6.0 (third best on the Mavs).
Dirk's per game averages in one game against the Clippers: 15.0 points, 38.5 percent shooting, 33.3 percent from the arc, 6.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks, 4.0 turnovers, plus/minus of minus-10.0 (only Darren Collison and Chris Kaman worse, both at minus-11.0).
A very somber Dirk discusses:
"They were just hugging me on the weak side and basically saying we don't even want him to catch the ball,'' Dirk explained. "That's an adjustment a lot of teams make. I still think we were right there. I don't think that's why we lost the game. We were scoring enough there in the fourth. We just couldn't get stops anymore, really."
There are plenty of wrinkles to include in some of these numbers. Defensive style is among them. More? For instance: When looking at those numbers it's worth nothing that Dirk played the Spurs twice and the Thunder once prior to being reinserted into the starting lineup … a trio of games that significantly lower his numbers against those teams.
Same with looking at Sunday's game by itself. The Mavs were without Shawn Marion (calf), lost Roddy Beaubois (who broke his hand) and have a complaint when it comes to foul-shot discrepancy: Dallas made all 16 of its free throws while OKC was allowed to shoot 30 of them (making 24).
Nevertheless, Brandan Wright and Mike James were among the Mavs who took more shots than either Dirk or Mayo took. And in the end, the Mavs -- with slim hopes of making the playoffs for a chance to oppose a top-tier team in the first round -- can't find their scorers well enough to avoid having a 1-12 record against those four contenders.
VIDEO VISIT WITH B-WRIGHT ...
With a first-quarter steal (his 955th career), Nowitzki passed Jason Kidd (954) for second place on the Mavs' all-time list. Nowitzki seemed to shake his head "no'' when the PA man made note of the accomplishment ... Derek Harper is No. 1 on that list ... This was Rick's 21st different starting lineup ... The Mavs are at Atlanta at 6:30 p.m. Monday. We'll have the telecast on Fox Sports Southwest starting at 6. ... Following the Hawks game, the club returns to Dallas for a six-game home stand which starts Wednesday against Deron and the Brooklyn Nets. ...
THE FINAL WORD ...
The long walk back says almost all of it ...
But it's where they're traveling to that matters now.
"We have to dig deep,'' Elton Brand said. "This is a game (at Atlanta on Monday) that could make or break the season. We have to step up."