7 Rebounds for Russell Westbrook, who also scored 23 points, had eight assists and made three steals
8 Assists for Reggie Jackson, who also scored 11 points and had five rebounds
16 Lead changes in the game, which also featured 10 ties
29-8 The Thunder’s advantage in fast break points on the night
41 Bench points for the Thunder, led by 13 by Derek Fisher and 10 from Caron Butler
43 Points for Kevin Durant, extending his streak of games with 25-or-more points to 36 games, four shy of Michael Jordan’s modern record of 40
52-42 The Thunder’s edge in points in the paint, where it shot 26-for-36
March 25th, 2014
DALLAS – In the NBA, you can play well in numerous aspects of the game, and yet still fall a bit short.
In another overtime thriller, the second such test in three games for the Thunder, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club couldn’t make enough plays in the overtime period to come away victorious, dropping one on the road to the Dallas Mavericks, 128-119. It was a back-and-forth affair all night with 16 lead changes and 10 ties throughout the contest.
No team led by more than ten points at any moment during the evening, but as the extra five minute period began, the Mavericks burst out on a 12-4 run that put the game away. Despite Kevin Durant’s 43 points and the best efforts of the entire Thunder squad, Brooks’ club just didn’t have enough down the stretch to grab a tough road win.
“They made some shots down the stretch and we didn’t,” Brooks said. “It was a hard fought game on both sides. I’m proud of our guys’ effort and energy coming back from back-to-back games.”
“We didn’t make the big play,” Durant said. “They got that offensive rebound and hit that three, which was big. They made shots in overtime. You have to give them credit. We just didn’t come through.”
The Mavericks got off to a hot start in the first quarter then the Thunder’s second unit returned the favor late in the quarter and into the second period. Led by Reggie Jackson, who racked up eight assists and helped guide five other teammates into double-digit scoring nights, the Thunder’s reserves racked up 41 points on the night.
In both points in the paint (52-42) and fast break points (29-8), the Thunder dominated the game as it racked up 27 assists on 49.5 percent shooting. Unfortunately it couldn’t track down enough rebounds in the second half, being out-rebounded by 13 in the fourth quarter and overtime combined. In addition, the Thunder’s defense was sucked into the paint too often, leading to kick-outs for open three-pointers, of which the Mavericks knocked down 15-of-38 attempts.
“We came out with enough energy to win this game, but they got hot,” Brooks explained. “They’re a good offensive team just like us and they make threes just like us. A couple plays down the stretch we could have done a better job securing the rebound and contesting their shots but I can’t complain about anything we did tonight.”
“We could have done a better job of contesting some of those shots,” Brooks said. “We got beat on drives and we have to be able to stay in front of our man so we don’t allow those threes.”
Rebounding, defense and turnovers will all be a focus for the Thunder in the coming days before its home tilt on Friday night against the Sacramento Kings. Tonight’s test was one that had the air of a playoff atmosphere, with Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams diving on the floor for loose balls and smartly calling timeouts, and veterans like Caron Butler and Derek Fisher hitting timely shots. As the team continues to gel over the coming weeks before the postseason begins, Brooks’ club will rely on chemistry and togetherness to ensure teamwork is evident on every single possession.
“It’s good for us to get in those battles at this point, to understand the possession game, how important each possession is, and value that,” Butler said. “We’re learning each other on the fly still and I love what I see.”
“It was a well-fought battle,” Butler continued. “We have to get prepared for the next challenge.”
There were plenty of twists and turns, bursts and runs throughout the night as each team grappled with the slippery lead throughout the first 48 minutes. As the overtime period began, however, the Mavericks made a 12-4 run that put the game out of reach for the Thunder, leaving Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club with not quite enough time to make a comeback.
The game was tied at 111-111 to start overtime. Two Dirk Nowitzki free throws started off the run, and after a bang-bang play on the other end saw the ball go out of bounds off of the Thunder, Dallas found Jose Calderon for a three-pointer. Kevin Durant found Serge Ibaka for a dunk to make it 116-113 Mavericks with 3:01 remaining. Nowitzki then hit a step-back jumper, and Shawn Marion followed up a Kevin Durant miss with a turnaround jumper to make it 120-113 with 2:03 remaining. Durant scored a bucket to make it 120-115 with 1:50 remaining, but after each team got a defensive stop, Nowitzki drained a three-pointer with 57 seconds remaining to make it 123-115, effectively wrapping up the game.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Excellent pick-and-roll defense by Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams to force a turnover. Serge Ibaka does a solid job of denying Dirk Nowitzki the ball in the post. Great hustle by Adams and Andre Roberson to track down a loose offensive board. Adams dives on the floor for a loose ball and smartly calls a timeout to save a possession. Nice closeout by Kevin Durant to force his man to travel. Strong, straight-up defense by Reggie Jackson and Nick Collison to force a miss on a drive. Incredible individual defense by Jackson to stand up Nowitzki and force a miss.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Nice job by Collison to pop quickly out of a screen as Durant attracted two defenders, freeing himself up for a pass. Roberson fights through a screen to force an illegal screen. Perfect closeout by Durant to force a busted possession. Collison smarty slaps an offensive rebound back out to Durant for an open three-pointer. Nice job by Jackson to stick his hand in the passing lane to deflect a would-be entry pass. Russell Westbrook slaps the ball out from behind Nowitzki to start a fast break. Incredible instincts by Westbrook to hustle over and make a steal from the blind side, then call timeout.
“We have a philosophy where we play hard and give everything we have. You try to shore up all the mistakes that are made out there during the game and come back and do the same thing the next day. I’m proud of our guys, but unfortunately we didn’t come out with the win. You can’t win them all but you can give great effort every game.” - Head Coach Scott Brooks