DONUT 1. The Twisted Numbers
The Mavs entered Sunday night’s game against The Oklahoma City Thunder riding a six-game win streak, and sitting in third place in the Western Conference standings. Unfortunately, despite having arguably their best offensive game of the season, Russell Westbrook would push the Thunder past the Mavs 117-114.
The Mavs shot well from the field ... but poorly from the line, making just 10 of 19 in the second half and just 57.1 percent for the game. The Mavs are historically a quality team from the line under Rick Carlisle ... and heck, under Avery and Nellie, too ... which makes this even more bizarre.
Said Wes Matthews, who tried to draw a foul at game's end to keep Dallas alive: “We’ve been winning games by closing out games. We’ve been winning games at the free-throw line. We’ve been winning games by not turning the ball over. We’ve been winning games by not giving up 117 points. All of which we did tonight.''
DONUT 2: McGee's Debut
Javale McGee made his debut as a Maverick on Sunday and got off to a strong start. McGee knocked down his first few shots in the lane, while also making kind of a bonehead play on a Ray Felton runner in the first quarter. ... which is part of JaVale's up-and-down NBA rep.
But McGee’s presence in the lineup gave Dallas another dynamic to play with, as well as some additional size in the paint that they have been lacking. McGee finished the night with eight points and six boards.
“It felt real good,” McGee said after missing so much time due to leg injuries and ... well, due to him being JaVale. “The first stint I was in, I was kind of out of breath. … It was definitely a blessing just being out here, period. I’m just grateful to be out here.”
Zaza Pachulia continues to impress manning the middle for the Mavs. The guy was averaging a double-double coming into this game, and is on pace to have the best season of his career. Zaza finished the game with 12 points, 10 boards and six assists; good for his eighth double-double of the season. ... and Zaza and McGee are, at the least, a compelling tandem inside for Dallas.
DONUT 3: Quarter-by-Quarter
Dallas got off to a rough start in the first quarter defensively, but was able to keep pace with Oklahoma City on the offensive end, shooting over 50 percent from the floor in the quarter. The Mavs trailed OKC 31-25 at the end of one thanks to some really solid inside offense from the Thunder.
Dallas drew even with the Thunder midway through the second quarter, but OKC’s athleticism won out once again in the second frame, as the Thunder would take a 60-52 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Mavs used a 33-point offensive outburst in the third quarter to take the lead back from the Thunder, even leading by double-digits at one point in the quarter. OKC however, would use their freakish athletes and relentless pressure to retake the lead from Dallas 87-85 to end the third.
And in the fourth? Russell Westbrook hit a midrange jumper to put the Thunder up 117-114 with 24 seconds to go in the game. The Mavs really never got another good look at the basket after that. We said, "Good look.''
DONUT 4: The Backcourt
Deron Williams had another good night offensively for Dallas on Sunday, scoring 20 points, grabbing six boards and handing out six dimes. Williams is slowly starting to looks more and more like the D-Will that the Mavs coveted a few seasons ago, and that’s very good news for Mavs fans.
Meanwhile, Wes Matthews was able to find his shot, scoring 18 points on 46.6 percent shooting from the floor. It has been good Wes/bad Wes for the Mavs throughout the majority of this season as he ramps up from the Achilles surgery, but on Sunday Good Wes showed up to help keep the Mavs in it down the stretch. It's also worth noting that a fully-healthy Wes gives Dallas its best chance of chasing around offensive studs of the caliber of Westbrook and his ilk.
DONUT 5: Having Said That ...
Dallas is going to have a tough time matching up with teams like OKC this year. They are just not athletic enough on the perimeter to consistently stay in front of people like Russell Westbrook. Dallas will have to find other ways to even the odds against teams like this down the line.
It's no secret that the Thunder have a supremely talented roster from top to bottom, even without superstar Kevin Durant on the floor. Westbrook is one of the most athletically gifted people in professional sports, and Serge Ibaka is a freak in his own right. They have the ability to match up with anybody team in the NBA when healthy, which frankly has been their biggest issue over the last few seasons. If this team can get and stay healthy, watch out.
DB.com has its fun poking at him, but Westbrook flat-out score the basketball. He gets to the rim almost at will, and has a good enough outside shot to keep defenses honest. Westbrook led the Thunder with 31 points, 11 assists, five boards and five steals.
DONUT 6: The Chandsome Report
CP was effective in his 24 minutes of game time in this game, scoring 12 points to go along with three rebounds. Chandsome seems to be finding his groove, as he gets more and more comfortable on the floor. In fact, the rustiest part of his game so far this season seems to be his free-throw shooting, where his shoots just 36.4 percent. While CP has never been great free-throw shooter, it stands to reason he will end the season closer to his 70-percent career range, rather than where he currently stands right now.
What helps Chandler right now: We're still amazed by the balance of this basketball team in each in every game. Each and every night, someone else seems to step up and give the Mavs the push they need down the stretch. Not to be hyperbolic, but the Mavs might be the deepest team in basketball ... and while "deep'' doesn't always mean "quality,'' Dallas' 9-5 record says there's some quality here, too.
But one more thing about balance: OKC kinda has it, too. The Thunder are portrayed as a one-man show by the national media when Kevin Durant isn’t on the floor, but that's false. The Thunder had six players in double-figures in this game, including the double-double from Westbrook. Tucked in here, for instance: Serge Ibaka had 16 points, nine rebounds and the key late blocked shot for Oklahoma City.
DONUT 7: Efficient Dirk
Dirk had a quiet yet efficient night for the most part, scoring 11 points on five-of-seven shooting. Dirk, who had just seven points going into the fourth quarter, stepped up late, hitting a couple of big buckets late in the game to keep the Mavs close.
DONUT 8: Cross-Body-Blocked?
Following Ibaka’s block on a Deron Williams drive, the Mavs had one more crack at it. ... but they would come away empty after Matthews’ desperation 3 attempt with 1.8 seconds left missed its target to end the game.
Was there contact?
"I haven't looked at the film yet, but it looked like Wesley Matthews got cross-body blocked,'' coach Rick Carlisle said.
Go back to the top and review that final shot. Not enough brutality to be called, we don't think.
DONUT 9: Quotable
"Weve got a lot of work to do,'' said Dirk. "We knew that before we won six in a row. Weve got to play hard. Weve got to play together. ... Weve got to defend, weve got to rebound and I like our chances against anybody."
DONUT 11: What's Next?
The six-game win streak is over; not since Dallas won the NBA title in 2011 has this franchise been able to extend a streak to seven. Time to start a new streak? Sure, but ...
The Mavs hit Beale Street to take on Marc Gasol and the Grizzlies from FedEx Forum from Memphis at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Tough place to start a streak.
DONUT 12: The Final Word
“I thought we were poor on defense the entire game. I mean, you give up 117 points, and we’ve been giving up under 100 on average. That’s just not getting it done, so I think we lost some of our defensive edge heading into tonight. And we’ve got to get it back.” - Rick Carlisle.