The Big Picture
After throwing the first punch in the ball game, Dallas had its chances throughout the night to break the game open against OKC, but the Thunder hung in there to keep the deficit manageable through three quarters. Although the Thunder kept itself within striking distance of Dallas through much of the ball game, a costly, lopsided fourth quarter allowed the Mavericks to break away to a 103-84 win.
Moments from the 48
Costly Fourth Frame For the first three quarters of the ball game, the Thunder were within striking distance of the Mavericks who balanced lead of just 12 points or less. It even looked as though the Thunder would be able to break through at the end of the third quarter. Jalen Brunson had just erupted for 10 consecutive points to build up the 12-point lead, but a pair of 3-pointers and a strong defensive stop led to a six-point swing to close the frame. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Thunder only trailed by a manageable nine points.
However, while OKC’s defense remained on par through the final frame, its offense fell flat putting up just 13 points over the final 12 minutes. Although Dallas went just 1-for-6 in the fourth quarter, it’s nine free throw attempts and 42-percent clip from the field were enough to eclipse the 26-percent shooting clip of the Thunder and take the game.
“I thought they outplayed us much of the night, and we just kind of made enough plays to hang around and stay within striking distance,” said Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault.
“One through four, all quarters, I don't think it was there enough to make the plays, doing the stuff required to win the game,” said Thunder forward Darius Bazley. “I thought it was very winnable, but we just weren't the hungrier team.”
Blocks by Baze Darius Bazley, using his 6-foot-8 frame and rangy wingspan, swatted away three shots on the night which marks his seventh career game with three or more blocks – five of which came this season. Bazley leads the team in total blocks this season with 28 (already three more than he tallied all of last season.) He added to his list of tough defensive assignments with the matchup against 7-foot-3 forward Kristaps Porzingis on Sunday. Bazley, who asked for the increased defensive responsibility before the season, continued to demonstrate his elevated floor when going up against elite, high-scoring opposition.
“My confidence just grows because I'm guarding pretty good guys every night. I got to be ready for that challenge,” said Bazley. “Also, it's something that gets me going. Stops are obviously important. I kind of realize that I'm blocking shots and it's a goal of mine - like I'm going to block his shot tonight."
“Baze has a defensive specialty,” said Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. “Super good athlete, can move, guard one through five. We all know that and believe that. We just need him and want him to bring that in every possession. He's getting better at that as the season goes on.”
Muscala’s Microwaved Minutes In the first frame, the Thunder’s offense emanated from multiple sources to create its first lead of the night. Most notably, veteran big man Mike Muscala stepped in off the bench and microwaved eight points in a matter of just two minutes. In a display of readiness and pure efficiency, the stretch big drained a pair of 3-pointers while also cashing in a layup at the basket all on consecutive possessions.
Dort’s Historic Streak In the first quarter, Darius Bazley zipped the ball across the court to Lu Dort who stood wide open in the right corner. Without hesitation, the third-year guard fired off and sank the triple which marked his 40th consecutive game with at least one made 3-pointer. His string of 40 straight games is the second-longest active streak in the league, trailing only Stephen Curry. The streak has also found its way into the Thunder history books as the fifth longest streak of games with at least one 3-pointer made.
The Last Word
Darius Bazley on the lessons from the night… “Sometimes I think we dig ourselves a hole and we're able to get ourselves out of it and it shows the fight in us. Just being able to get out on teams early and stay consistent with it is something we need to do. We'll definitely watch film and take away from tonight's game and sharpen up in different areas that are key for us."
Mark Daigneault on the energy of the night… “Our whole team tonight just wasn't up to the level that we established earlier in the week on those two road games, and we've got to kind of tap back into that from an energy standpoint, competitiveness standpoint. It wasn't awful tonight, but certainly wasn't up to the level that we're capable of or that we've been at here recently.”
OKC will have a two-day break between contests before tipping off again on Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans at home. The team will then conclude its four-game home stand with a tilt against the Clippers on Saturday at 7 pm CT.