Recap: Despite Collison's best efforts, OKC outlasts Mavs in OT
Earl K. Sneed reports from Oklahoma City, where the Dallas Mavericks fell to a fourth straight loss overall and an eighth consecutive defeat in overtime despite a season-high scoring night by point guard Darren Collison.
Recap: Mavericks 105 at Thunder 111 F/OT
Despite Collison's best efforts, OKC outlasts Mavs in OT to continue losing skid
Sliding on a three-game losing streak into Chesapeake Energy Arena, the Dallas Mavericks knew heading into Thursday’s nationally-televised matchup against the reigning Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder that they’d have to display their best effort in order to bring an end to their recent skid. Meanwhile, after dropping road games in Minnesota and Miami, the Thunder team tried to get back on track in front of its hometown fans.
With that said, the Mavericks began their tough back-to-back in search of a victory against the team that ended Dallas’ 2011-12 season with a first-round playoff series sweep before also welcoming in the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. Meanwhile, 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki suited up for just the second time this season, after his debut was ruined by the Mavs’ 129-91 lopsided loss in San Antonio on Sunday.
But with Nowitzki and leading scorer O.J. Mayo both struggling, the valiant Mavericks (12-17) would push the Thunder (22-6) to the brink of defeat while forcing the game into an extra period. Still, it wouldn’t be enough as the Mavericks fell for a fourth straight outing, outlasted in overtime en route to a 111-105 defeat.
“I think we’ve got to compete on every play. I don’t think we’re good enough this year to coast or take possessions off and I like the way we competed,” Nowitzki said after the heartbreaking loss. “Obviously, I think some other teams are more talented and so are [the Thunder], but if we play hard and compete, if we get after balls on defense and make them uncomfortable and put pressure on them, I like what I saw. We had a chance there to win this game, but just made some mistakes down the stretch that we can’t make.”
“We’ve just got to be more precise and execute better,” point guard Darren Collison added after a season-high scoring output went in vain as the Mavs fell to 0-5 this season in overtime by dropping their eighth straight overall in OT. “It’s gonna come down to those games when we’re playing those tough teams like Oklahoma City and we’ve just got to be able to capitalize. … Dirk is our closer, and once he starts feeling like himself again and he’s playing more minutes, it’s easy to just give him the ball. But, you know, we’ll be fine. We’ve just got to execute better and I guarantee when Dirk starts feeling himself and playing more minutes, we’ll give him the ball, everybody just space out and watch him work.”
Starting the game on the bench for the second straight game, Nowitzki would be an onlooker as Collison slid into the first unit ahead of third-year pro Dominique Jones and quickly moved into double figures. Nowitzki then entered the game with 5:51 left in the opening period, quickly draining a vintage jumper.
But it was Collison’s 14 first-quarter points that would lead the Mavs to an advantage as large as 10 in the period, before the Mavericks escaped into the second stanza with a 29-21 lead.
After Dominique Jones’ and-one jam over Hasheem Thabeet with 9:06 left in the half, the Mavericks sat with a 35-24 advantage as they tried to create more separation between the two squads on the scoreboard. A four-point play by rookie Jae Crowder would follow, as the Mavs continued to keep the charging Thunder at bay.
Still, with the duo of three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant and big man Serge Ibaka coming alive, the Mavs found themselves up just two, 45-43, at the break.
Led by Collison’s 16 first-half points, the Mavs held the slight advantage despite being outshot through the first 24 minutes of action, 40.9 percent to 37.5 percent. Meanwhile, Nowitzki shot just 1-of-7 from the field heading into the intermission, while All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook struggled for the Thunder with just 2-of-9 shooting at the other end.
After a clear-path foul on O.J. Mayo allowed Ibaka to tie the game at 45-all early in the third period, Collison again settled his team down by leading a 10-0 run to regain control of the game. The Thunder wouldn’t go quietly, however, as Durant’s end-to-end sequence with a block on Collison and dunk over the Dallas defense got the home crowd out of its seats.
Mayo and Nowitzki then sandwiched a triple by Thabo Sefolosha with 3-pointers of their own as center Chris Kaman came alive for the Mavs inside. And after Dominique Jones banked in a 3 at the buzzer, the Mavs entered the final 12 minutes of play with an 81-73 margin under their belt.
With the game in the hands of the reserves to start the fourth, both teams called on their sixth men from long range as Thunder guard Kevin Martin and swingman Vince Carter exchanged shots from behind the arc. Carter followed that up a short time later with another 3 to put the Mavs ahead 89-79 before Durant answered at the other end.
But after a thunderous and-one slam by Westbrook over Mayo trimmed the lead to just three, a score by Sefolosha made it just a one-point game with 3:38 remaining. Oklahoma City still wasn’t done yet, taking the lead on a hook shot by Durant to go ahead 96-95 with 1:57 left for the Mavs to respond.
And respond they did.
The Mavs’ inability to grab a defensive rebound down the stretch would briefly prove to be closely, before a defensive stop led to a turnover by Mayo. And after Westbrook secured the steal and called timeout, just 5.3 ticks remained on the game clock.
After a foul sent the scoring champ to the line, Durant calmly nailed two free throws to up the advantage to three with 3.7 seconds still remaining. Westbrook then fouled Collison with 2.2 seconds left, before Shawn Marion inbounded the ball off of Sefolosha’s back and passed to Collison for a desperation, one-legged 3 attempt that was ruled good upon review to send the game into overtime.
“Man, it was just a prayer,” a relieved Collison said when reminiscing over the shot. “I honestly didn’t think it was going in, but I had made a couple of those floater 3-pointers before and I was just thankful that it went in. It gave us a chance for overtime.”
“Collison was terrific,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle added. “Tremendous at both ends. And the way he played tonight is really what we need from him just in terms of his presence in the game, his aggressiveness at both ends of the court and he just had a great impact. And I’m not even talking about the points scored necessarily, although that’s a part of it certainly.”
A score by Collison would get the Mavs on the board first to start the extra period. But Westbrook’s jumper over Nowitzki with 1:04 in the OT gave the Thunder a one-point edge yet again before the cat-quick point guard’s steal of a Mayo pass and score between Mayo and Collison lifted Oklahoma City to a 107-104 margin with 42.0 left in OT.
Still, after Martin fouled Mayo on a 3 attempt, the Mavs would have a chance to tie the game before the sharpshooter missed two of the three foul shots — the team's only two misses at the line all night on 16 attempts — to keep the visiting squad on the downside of the scoreboard. The Thunder then closed out the game with clutch strokes at the charity stripe in the final seconds.
Outperforming his UCLA teammate, Westbrook, and finishing with a season-high 32 points on 13-of-22 shooting and 4-for-4 from long range, Collison also added five rebounds, four assists and four steals.
“I don’t see anything good out of it. You know, we lost the game. I’m about wins and losses,” Collison said while summing up his night. “Regardless of how I played, it don’t mean nothing if you don’t win the game. You know, it was good that I was attacking, but at the same time that’s how it’s always been. It’s always been about wins and losses and we didn’t win the game, so we’ve got to bounce back and get ready for tomorrow.”
“I thought [Collison] was phenomenal and it started really early,” Nowitzki said of the 25-year-old lead guard. “He was open from 3 and stepped into it aggressively, made it and then really the whole game he kept attacking. He got to the rim, made some great plays, shot the ball well, so I’m really encouraged by the way he played. For our team, he’s got to stay aggressive and get to the basket and make some stuff happen. He was phenomenal for us tonight and it was fun to watch, so I hate to waste an effort like that from him obviously, but we’ll definitely need him to keep playing like that. Obviously he’s not going to score 30 every night, but we need him to attack, get into the paint and make some stuff happen.”
Kaman added 17 points while Marion filled up the stat sheet with 14 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Meanwhile, Durant led three Thunder players in double figures with a game-high 40 points on 13-of-28 from the floor and 4-of-8 from 3-point range, while Ibaka added 19 points and 17 rebounds and Westbrook pitched in 16 points and 10 assists. And even with Nowitzki and Mayo a combined 4-for-21 from the floor, the Mavs still managed to outshoot the Thunder, 42.1 percent to 41.9 percent, despite losing the rebounding edge, 56-46, in addition to 13 turnovers for 23 Oklahoma City points.
“We’ve got to try to take all the positives we can from this loss,” a disappointed Marion said. “I think this is one we let slip through our fingers, but we’ve just got to home tomorrow against a good Denver team and try to stop the bleeding.”
“You know, we win and lose as a team,” Carlisle added while deflecting the attention off of Mayo’s 1-of-7 night for just four points and Nowitzki’s 3-of-11 shooting for nine points in just over 26 minutes of action. “Individual guys struggle, that’s going to happen during an NBA season. And when it does, I’ve got to help those guys do better. It’s on me. … They made some plays and we made some mistakes. We were still right there, but when we needed one stop, we couldn’t get it. When we needed one rebound, we couldn’t get it. When we needed one score, we couldn’t get it. And that’s how this league is, it’s though. We’ve got to do a better job of avoiding those runs that happened against us, but more importantly we’ve got to bounce back tomorrow. That’s where it’s at.”
Note: The Mavericks will return to action Friday night at home against the Denver Nuggets. The game will air locally at 7:30 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest and nationally on NBA TV. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.