6:16 Minutes played for Mustafa Shakur in his first game action for the Thunder this season
7 Rebounds for Nick Collison, including three on the offensive end
16 Second chance points for the Thunder off of 10 offensive rebounds
18 Turnovers forced by the Thunder’s defense, which turned into 18 points
19 Points for Serge Ibaka, in addition to six rebounds, two assists and two blocks
22 Bench points for the Thunder, led by seven from Caron Butler and six from Perry Jones
30 Points for Kevin Durant, extending his streak of games with 25-or-more points to 31
March 16th, 2014
The ball whipped around the floor, finding the open man, but unlike most nights at Chesapeake Energy Arena, that ball movement wasn’t coming from the Thunder.
Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club fell to 48-18 on the season with a 109-86 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night, allowing 79 combined points in the paint and at the three-point line, as Dallas shot 53.3 percent from the floor. The Thunder held a five-point lead mid-way through the first quarter, but defensive breakdowns characterized the ensuing two-and-a-half quarters, as the Mavericks scored 91 points in the first three quarters alone.
“It’s unfortunate we didn’t come out with the energy that it takes to beat a very good team,” Brooks said. “We have to play much better defense. We have to play better defensive basketball to beat a good team that moves the ball for 24 seconds. Every time down the court they find a great shot.”
Although Brooks and team leaders like Kevin Durant and Nick Collison readily admitted that the all-around defensive effort wasn’t up to the Thunder’s normal standards, one area in particular stood out. The Thunder struggled to stop dribble penetration throughout the night, as Mavericks guards Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon and Devin Harris repeatedly got into the lane to either dump off passes to bigs for layups or kick-out to three-point shooters, where Dallas shot 13-for-24. Moving forward, the Thunder knows it must stop the ball at the point of attack both in isolation and in the pick-and-roll.
“We didn’t do a lot of things right on the defensive end,” Brooks said. “We didn’t get into our coverages. We didn’t stop the basketball. They were shooting threes, they were driving to the basket, we were chasing the basketball all over all night long. When we’re good, we control the ball. Tonight we didn’t do that.”
“That’s the key, because if we’re behind there, we’re behind the whole possession,” Collison said. “That’s what happened tonight. They were able to turn the corner, get in the lane and find shooters. If we closed out to one, they would swing to another one.”
Despite 30 points, four rebounds and four assists from Kevin Durant and a 19-point, six-rebound effort from Serge Ibaka, the Thunder’s offense couldn’t quite keep up with Dallas’ either, as the team shot just 36.7 percent from the field. Throughout the course of an 82-game NBA schedule, there are bound to be nights like this one, but the Thunder hopes to get the bad taste out of its mouth quickly. Fortunately, it has a chance to make amends immediately, with a game in Chicago against the Bulls on Monday night.
“I’d like to see us be a lot more consistent here, finishing up the year,” Collison said. “That’s our goal, to get back to where we are defending every night.”
“It’s just knowing that we can learn from this loss and not want to have this feeling again,” Durant said. “That’s for everybody in this locker room. We just have to move past it and have a short memory. If we had won this game, we couldn’t bring it into tomorrow anyway. If we lost, we just have to go out and try to get a W tomorrow.”
The Thunder led 16-11 with 5:25 left in the first quarter, but over the next seven minutes, the Mavericks used a 22-7 run to flip the script of the game completely. The burst started with a Jose Calderon layup, then Calderon hit back-to-back three-pointers with the Thunder only responding with a Reggie Jackson layup and a Nick Collison free throw. Vince Carter followed up two free throws with a three-pointer, while Kevin Durant and Caron Butler hit buckets for the Thunder to keep it close. The first quarter ended with a Brandon Wright alley-oop dunk and a Devin Harris three-pointer.
Coming out of the quarter break, Wright made a layup and Dirk Nowitzki hit a jumper to make it 33-23 Dallas with 11:06 remaining. The Thunder would pull to within four points later in the quarter, but was never able to get over the hump. After halftime, the Thunder’s deficit was never less than double-digits.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Steven Adams chases down two loose balls on the offensive end and helps get possession back for the Thunder. Andre Roberson hustles back in transition defense to draw a charge. Nice closeout by Kevin Durant with quick steps forces Shawn Marion into a travel. Great hustle underneath the basket by Nick Collison helps get the Thunder two extra possessions. Collison deflects a loose ball to a teammate to keep possession alive.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Nice pressure defense by Roberson and Perry Jones forces Dallas into an errant pass and a turnover. Jones comes over in helpside defense and forces Dirk Nowitzki into a travel. Roberson sticks with the play and grabs a loose ball for a put-back. Caron Butler slaps the ball out of a Mavericks’ player’s hands as he was coming down for a rebound, getting possession back. Ibaka shows out hard on a pick-and-roll, forcing a risky dribble and Mavericks turnover. Jeremy Lamb slaps the ball out from behind his man and then Jones hits him with a nice outlet pass.
“They did a really good job of flowing into offense and moving the ball. It seemed like we were behind the whole night chasing the ball. They passed it really well. We needed to be a lot quicker than we were tonight. We were slow on every play. We have to get better for tomorrow.” - forward Nick Collison