Picking Each Other Up, Getting Right Back at It – INTEGRIS Game Day Report: OKC vs. DAL
By Nick Gallo | Thunder Basketball Writer | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. CT
- Television: Fox Sports Oklahoma
- Radio: WWLS the Sports Animal and the Thunder Radio Network
DALLAS -- The Thunder just squared off at home against two NBA division leaders in the Golden State Warriors and Detroit Pistons, and split those games at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Now it’s time to hit the road again, and this time against a team that may be sitting at the bottom of the Southwest Division, but certainly isn’t a pushover.
Head Coach Billy Donovan’s group is back at it again tonight for its third game in four nights in a clash against the Dallas Mavericks, it’s longtime Western Conference rival who is going through a rebuilding phase. With Dirk Nowitzki (10.6 ppg) still in tow and Harrison Barnes (19.5 ppg) playing as a hybrid power forward, the Mavericks have a veteran presence combined with one of the most highly touted rookies in the league, Dennis Smith Jr (14.3 ppg).
Behind a 39-point third quarter and an efficient 37-point, eight-rebound, five-assist, two-steal effort by Paul George, the Thunder dispatched the Mavericks by a score of 112-99 a couple weeks ago back in OKC. Back on the road where the Thunder has dropped five straight, George says the Thunder has to come out swinging.
“We can’t expect it to be how we played (in OKC),” George began. “Dallas is a sleeper to where if your guard is down, they will beat you. And they play well at home.”
“So we have to forget about (Friday night). We can’t sulk going into (tonight) and feel down on ourselves,” George continued. “We have to pick one up, especially on the road. We haven’t been winning or playing well on the road, so we have to get one (tonight).”
After thumping the Warriors on Wednesday night, the Thunder came out strong against the Pistons in the first half, only to see their advantages in the paint and rebounding slip away as shots continued to clang off the rim. The Thunder’s trio of George, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony couldn’t buy a bucket down the stretch, but the effort and focus was there all night. The Thunder simply got beat in one of those make-or-miss games.
The loss dropped the Thunder to 8-10 on the season, as it continues to hack through this early season adversity. The entire team has stayed in the boat through it all, and needs to pick itself up again tonight.
“The game was weird. It was one of those games where you have to go back and watch it and figure it out from there,” Anthony said. “It didn’t feel like a step back. As far as how we played and competed, it wasn’t a step back.”
“Everyone is on board. Everybody works. Everybody wants to win,” Anthony continued. “We are right there as far as turning that corner. We are looking uphill.”
The Thunder knows what it has to do, and how it has to play in order to stay on track. Playing that way for 48 minutes has been difficult this year, but it is playing hard. It’s a matter of playing with a focus and purpose on every single possession. It’s moving closer and closer to doing that for all four quarters. The next step is just having the ball bounce the right way. Even on the second night of a back to back, the Thunder is confident it can do so tonight.
“We’re going to go in there and try to get a win,” Westbrook said bluntly.
“It would be a great win for us to go get especially on the road, in another town,” Anthony added. “We could use that and push forward.”