Recap: Durant's career night downs Mavs in OT to end win streak
Recap: Thunder 117 at Mavericks 114 F/OT
Durant's career night downs Mavs in OT to end win streak
Although their 111-105 overtime road loss on Dec. 27 to the NBA-best Oklahoma City Thunder left them without anything to show for a great team effort last month, it may have served as just what the Dallas Mavericks needed to begin heading in the right direction.
Sitting 10 games below .500 at one point this season for the first time since March of 2000, the Mavericks entered Friday night’s rematch with the Thunder riding a season-best four-game winning streak while trying to avenge that December loss. Meanwhile, the Mavs tried to bring an end to the Thunder’s five-game winning streak entering the night, looking to conclude their four-outing homestand with an unbeaten record.
Instead, the Mavericks (17-24) would again suffer a heartbreaking overtime loss after a second-half rally, falling in the extra period to a 117-114 defeat to end their win streak in disappointing fashion.
“We gave ourselves a chance to win this game tonight,” four-time All-Star Shawn Marion said after the disappointing loss. “We could have done a couple of different things, but for the most part we were there. We were there all night. We got back in the game, we just couldn’t close it out, though.”
The Thunder (32-8) quickly jumped out to a double-digit lead early in the second stanza before a much-needed 3-pointer by eight-time All-Star Vince Carter briefly stopped the bleeding. But with 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki missing his first five shot attempts, frustration would boil over as the 7-footer was assessed a technical foul for arguing with officiating during a stoppage of play with 8:25 left in the first half. Backup big man Elton Brand then took his frustration out on the opposition, called for a flagrant-one foul after sending Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka to the ground hard on a shot attempt.
Nowitzki then continued to struggle to find the shooting touch while missing on his first seven shot attempts before swishing in a vintage jumper. Meanwhile, the Mavs’ turnovers piled up before a scrum between Thunder center Kendrick Perkins and his counterpart Chris Kaman resulted in a technical foul call on Oklahoma City’s interior enforcer.
Still, even after the Mavs trimmed a 14-point deficit to as little as five, the home team looked up to a 53-46 disadvantage entering the locker room at the intermission after Westbrook’s tip-in to close the first half.
With Westbrook’s 16 points and Durant’s 15 points leading the way on a combined 12-of-25 shooting, the Thunder outshot the Mavs through the midway mark, 46.7 percent to 44.2 percent. The Thunder also held a 25-21 rebounding edge, a 26-20 margin in points in the paint and a 12-0 separation in second-chance points through the first 24 minutes of action.
Looking for a spark to begin the second half, the Mavs got one in the form of leading scorer O.J. Mayo’s three-point play to put his team within three. Mayo continued to come alive, as did Carter off the bench, keeping the Mavs within an arm’s reach with attacking scores. But Westbrook would continuously have an answer for the Thunder as the visitors surged back ahead by double digits.
Still, after Mayo’s missed layup led to Durant’s 3 at the other end and a five-point swing, the Mavs entered the final 12 minutes of play down nine, 81-72.
Back-to-back scores by Brand before a corner 3 from new addition Mike James to start the fourth were quickly answered at the other end of the floor by Durant and his Thunder henchmen. But after a score by Nowitzki, the Mavs continued to fight back, climbing to within thee on Brand’s jumper in the lane with 9:25 still on the clock. Nowitzki’s two free throws with 8:25 remaining then made it just a one-point game for the Mavs to complete the comeback.
After a fifth foul of the night on Nick Collison sent Nowitzki back to the line and put the Mavs in the penalty with 6:41 remaining, the 7-footer first gave his team the lead at the charity stripe before hanging in the lane for a jumper the next time down the floor. But the Thunder refused to go away, rallying behind Durant and Westbrook to force a timeout by Mavs coach Rick Carlisle with his team up just one, 96-95, with 2:43 left to play.
Durant’s score with 2:05 left was immediately answered by Carter to regain the edge on the scoreboard. But Durant would again place the Thunder on top with back-to-back trips to the foul line, putting the Mavs in a 101-98 hole with 1:16 remaining.
Missing a 3 that would have tied the game, Nowitzki would get a chance at redemption with 41.0 ticks left after a loose-ball foul on Ibaka allowed Nowitzki to connect on two free throws. Unable to secure a defensive rebound, however, the Mavs would be forced to foul before Durant added to his points total and his team’s edge with two foul shots to go up three with 15.2 seconds left. And after a dunk by Carter to climb back within one, Westbrook’s two free throws with 5.9 seconds remaining left the Mavs one last chance to tie and force an overtime period.
With Carter inbounding to Marion, the ball swung Mayo’s way after a screen to the wing. The sharpshooter then calmly rained in a 3-pointer over Thabo Sefolosha and Perkins with 2.3 ticks left before Durant’s jumper at the buzzer misfired to send the game into the extra period.
“It was a good play we drew up,” Mayo said of the sequence. “Dirk got me on a re-screen, and obviously you don’t want to leave the big fella, so for a split second they both ran to him and I got an open look and got an opportunity to knock it down.”
“We had a good fourth quarter, we just couldn’t close the game. That’s always going to be really challenging when you play a game against a team of that caliber, and look, it comes down to one play. You can take your pick of which play it is. It’s one play. So, hey, at the end of regulation, Marion made a great catch and a great pass and Mayo hit a great shot. That was a big-time moment in the game and our guys really rose to it. And then in overtime, we just couldn’t get over it. We couldn’t get over the hump,” Carlisle added.
With neither team able to get much going offensively, the Mavs broke open the scoring in overtime after Durant fouled Carter on a 3 attempt with 3:47 on the clock, leading to a 3-for-3 trip the line. Nowitzki then followed free throws by Durant with a jumper to keep the Thunder at bay.
Still, following a jumper by Westbrook, the Thunder wouldn’t go quietly into the night, taking a 112-110 lead on Durant’s 3 with 2:05 on the clock. Durant then climbed to 50 points on the night with a jumper over Mayo to answer a 3 by Mike James that had put the Mavs ahead by one. A 1-of-2 trip at the foul line by Nowitzki subsequently tied the game at 114-all, only to be answered yet again by Durant on a jumper in the lane to put the Thunder back in front by two with 16.5 seconds to respond.
With the Thunder defense scrambling on a Carlisle-designed play, James was forced to launch a shot from the top of the key.
“I just made the wrong decision,” James explained. “I had a big on me and I have to understand the situation. I have to attack and I didn’t. I had hit a few shots, so I felt like it was a good shot, but it’s only a good shot if you make it. I didn’t make the right play and that’s what it’s about, making the right play, especially at the end of the game.”
He was then forced to foul Westbrook with 2.7 seconds left, leading to a 1-of-2 trip to the line that left the Mavs needing a 3 to tie before Carter’s miss in the corner at the buzzer sent the home team off the hardwood with a second loss to their emerging rival.
Hitting 21-of-21 at the foul line, compared to 30 free throw attempts by the Mavs as a team, Durant dominated the game while scoring a career-high 52 points on 13-of-31 shooting and 5-of-9 from 3-point range to go along with nine rebounds.
“Well, honestly, he had 52 but I thought we guarded him as well as you can guard somebody having 52,” Nowitzki said while summing up Durant’s night. “I think he missed a bunch of shots. I think at one point he missed eight in a row or something like that, so I mean he got hot there late. I thought we didn’t do a good job obviously of keeping him off the free throw line. You can’t give a good player 21 free throws. At some point, if he keeps seeing the ball go in the basket, at some point he’s going to get hot. But, like I said, for a guy that had 52, I think we did a decent job on him.”
“He’s a great player,” Carlisle said of Durant. “He’s the best offensive player on the planet. I don’t think there’s any question about that. Look, there’s some things we obviously could have done to limit him and that’s on me, too.”
Westbrook, meanwhile, added 31 points, six rebounds and six assists while Kevin Martin and Ibaka registered 11 points apiece.
Off the bench, Carter tallied up a Mavericks-high 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting and 4-for-8 from 3.
“Just trying to do my part more than anything,” Carter modestly said. “The shots that I had I’ve had in the last couple of games that I didn’t make. I’m just working on my game, remaining confident, remaining aggressive and trying to make the right play more than anything. I just want to do whatever I need to do for this team.”
Mayo and Nowitzki both pitched in 18 points in the first unit. Darren Collison added 15 points and Brand snatched down 13 rebounds while matching James’ 10 points off the bench.
In defeat, the Mavericks finished the night outshooting the Thunder, 45.1 percent to 41.1 percent. But the Thunder collected a 53-46 rebounding edge and a 25-11 separation in second-chance points, making up for Dallas’ 17-8 margin in fast-break points and converting the Mavs’ 16 turnovers into 24 points while allowing 18 points on their own 17 giveaways.
With the loss, the Mavs also fell to 1-8 this season in overtime games.
“It’s unfortunate. I think as a unit we fought like heck to really give ourselves a chance to win. We were down at one point I think 12, cut it down to four or five and got the lead. That’s just us learning how to play together, persevering and we just have to keep going. It’s going to be bumps in the road. … The thing that I like is that we’re giving ourselves a chance to win against good teams. We’re getting ourselves into overtime games. Now, we just have to learn how to close it out,” Carter concluded.
Note: The Mavericks return to action Sunday evening in Orlando for their first of two meetings against the Magic this season. The game will air locally at 5 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest.