Rapid Fire: Mavs Back in the Loss Column After Home Loss to OKC
1. Fresh off of a pallet-cleansing win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night, the Mavs welcomed the Oklahoma City Thunder to the American Airlines Center, hoping to carry that momentum forward into Wednesday night’s matchup. Unfortunately for the Mavs, Russell Westbrook and the supremely talented offense of the Thunder was too much to overcome, as the Mavs fell at home to the Thunder 116-103.
2. A little less than midway through the first quarter, David Lee made his Dallas Mavericks debut in front of the home crowd at the AAC. Lee looked fresh and motivated upon his insertion into the lineup, and it looks as though he will be able to help the Mavs in some key areas for the remainder of the season. Lee -- playing some 5, as predicted -- finished the game with four points and four rebounds in 15 minutes of action, and was active and impactful on both ends of the floor.
“I thought he did well considering it’s his first game,'' Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "He hasn’t played in a month in an NBA game; I don’t believe he’s been in a game in about a month. He did some good things. He played a little at both spots; a little of 4, more 5. He can help us.”
3. The first quarter went pretty much as expected, with Oklahoma City jumping out to a double-digit lead right off the bat. After two early fouls by Chandler Parsons sent him to bench, the Mavs offense struggled to get going early on, allowing Russell Westbrook to take advantage, finishing with 10 points in the quarter. The Mavs would trim the lead back down to double digits, but still trailed the Thunder 33-24 heading into the second period of action.
4. One bright spot of the first quarter was the defensive play of Salah Mejri, who had two blocks in the early going. One of those blocks was at the expense of Kevin Durant, which sent the American Airlines Center Crowd into a frenzy.
5. Something that shouldn’t be lost in the Mavs' improved play over the last couple of games is the return of Devin Harris (overcoming that toe injury) to the lineup. Harris brings a different dimension to the Mavs offense when he’s in the game, with the ability to push the basketball up the floor at a lightning quick pace, as well as his ability on the defensive end to check quicker guards on the perimeter.
6. The second quarter was an improvement for the Mavs, who cut the OKC lead down to 4 points heading into the locker room. That was before Kevin Durant nailed a 40-foot shot from beyond the arc to stretch the lead back to seven. Surprisingly enough, despite Chandler Parsons first half foul trouble, the Mavs were able to string some offensive consistency together, thanks in large part to Dirk’s 15 first half points.
7. Speaking of which, the Big German really came to play in this one. With Chandler Parsons in foul trouble, Dirk was left to pick up the slack, and he answered the bell in classic “Dirkie” fashion. He would finish things with 33 points on 10 of 16 shooting, reminding all of us that he’s still got a lot left in the tank. ... while also leaving us lamenting a classic ... wasted.
8. When Oklahoma City’s offense is on, it is something to behold for basketball fans. From Kevin Durant’s silky-smooth game, to Serge Ibaka’s ability to stretch the floor, and the plethora of other weapons in the arsenal, OKC is one tough team to stop. From our perspective over here at DB.com, OKC just might be the only team offensively capable of knocking off the defending champ Golden State Warriors (with the notable exception of the Spurs) in this year’s championship race.
9. But perhaps the most dynamic part of OKC’s offensive attack is point guard Russell Westbrook. Westbrook is nearly unstoppable on a nightly basis, cranking out triple-doubles at an alarming rate, and scoring essentially at will when ever he feels like it. Westbrook plays the game as if every player on the opposing team personally and deeply insulted him, his wife, his mother, his brother, his best friend, his high school English teacher, his barber and his next door neighbor’s golden retriever. Every time he steps on the floor he is exacting a personal vendetta against the opposing side, and it is a terrifying sight to behold for opposing teams and fan bases.
"Intimidating,'' Harp called OKC on the telecast, and that's exactly right.
10. The third quarter was a tough one for the Mavs, who after taking their first lead of the game midway through the period, quickly saw that lead evaporate right back into Oklahoma City’s favor. OKC would stretch the lead back out to six heading into the final stanza, despite the Mavs attacking the basket relentlessly to end the quarter.
11. Speaking of Parsons, his inability to get going on Wednesday night was a big issue for the Mavs. Parsons is the kind of player who, when he’s on, makes the rest of his team better with his style of play. Conversely, when he’s struggling, the Mavs tend to struggle as well. Parsons shot just 30-percent from the field and scored six points. Not exactly what the Mavs needed against a team like OKC in a big game at home. Maybe he didn't attack enough overall, because he wasn't a "closer'' here until it was garbage time.
12. It’s not a good sign when Dirk goes for the 30-plus and the Mavs lose by this kind of margin. There is obviously a significant gap in talent between these two teams, but usually when The UberMan goes bonkers like this, the Mavs are right in the thick of things all the way to the end. Some adjustments need to made, that much is clear. To its credit, Dallas did battle back late. But the score was deceiving; OKC was in control.
13. On the bright side of things, Wes Matthews was finally able to string together two straight games of double digits in scoring for the first time since mid-January. Wes is the guy who'd said, "We can beat this team.'' We admire his guts, but Dallas is now 0-4 against OKC and we know a certain DFW Mavs beat writer doesn't see to understand "numbers'' but 0-4 is bad.
14. Deron Williams really took a beating towards the end of this game. The last thing that Dallas needs during this rough patch is for a closer and floor general to miss time due to injury. That almost happened a couple of times here -- late in the game he weirdly bashed his two hands full of fingers against one another -- and D-Will will likely be spending some extended time in the training room in preparation for Friday night’s game against Denver.
15. Ultimately, the Mavs just couldn’t keep up with Oklahoma City’s offensive attack down the final stretch. When OKC wanted to ramp things up to the next level, the Mavs just didn’t have the horses to keep pace, as the dropped their sixth game in their last eight outings, 116-103.
Stat(s) of the night: Dominance in the paint. OKC dominated the boards by a 52-42 mark, while outscoring the Mavs in the paint 38-32.
This game was over when... Oklahoma City took back the lead at the end of the third quarter. Once Dallas relinquished the lead, OKC went for the jugular, and buried the Mavs on their home floor behind a relentless offensive attack.
Should have seen coming... Russell Westbrook filling up the stat book. Westbrook is a stat sheet killer night in and night out, but against a team like Dallas who isn’t too great on the perimeter defensively, Westbrook was bound to have yet another double-double at least. And that’s exactly what he did.
Couldn't see coming... Steven Adams and Enes Kanter combined for 29 points and 16 rebounds. Kanter is gifted offensively, but the combination of those two players wasn’t something the Mavs expected to be such an issue down the stretch.
What's next?: The Mavs (30-28) have now slipped to No. 7 in the West, with Utah nipping at their heels ... but will remain home and take on the Denver Nuggets (22-35) on Friday night at 7:30pm at the AAC.
The Final Word: “I don’t look at the standings that much, I’m looking at how we’re playing. I didn’t like the way we played in the first and the fourth quarters tonight – and those are pretty important quarters. We’ve got to pick it up. These games at home are precious commodities. Oklahoma City is a terrific team, but we can do better than what we did tonight.” - Rick Carlisle.