In what is arguably the wildest Thunder game of the season, the Oklahoma City Thunder battled back from multiple double digit deficits to stun the reeling Dallas Mavericks 111-105 on Thursday night in front of a sold out Chesapeake Energy Arena. Kevin Durant led the charge with 40 points, 8 rebounds. Durant nailed four three-pointers on the way to the victory. Oklahoma City improved to 22-6 on the season, tied for the league’s best record. It was the 11th straight home victory for the Thunder.
Darren Collison decided he was going to be the better Collison to start the game. Collison had 14 first quarter points as the Dallas Mavericks were hitting their shots, and Oklahoma City was not. It actually seemed that the flow of the game came much easier for the Mavericks than it did for the Thunder. Oklahoma City were forcing the ball a lot. Didn’t help that shots were just not falling. Led by Collison, Dallas used their efficient scoring to push the lead to double-digits at 29-19 with 54 seconds to go, and Oklahoma City struggled the final minute. Oklahoma City shot just 41 percent in the quarter, and just 0-for-4 from three-point range.
It started out just as bad in the second quarter. It reached a climax with Jae Crowder was fouled after he hit the three, and he converted for the four-point play. Dallas pushed their lead to 11 points with 8:27 left in the quarter. The bench as abysmal for the Thunder, and struggled while the starters rested.
Once the starters returned, it was an entirely different team for Oklahoma City. The Thunder outscored the Mavericks 17-8 over the final eight minutes of the game. The Thunder defense was key. Oklahoma City forced the Mavericks to go 3-for-18 from the floor over the final eight minutes. Oklahoma City had multiple chances to tie the game at half, but kept coming up short.
Serge Ibaka was very key for the Thunder tonight. He was 7-for-10 from the floor for 19 points and 17 rebounds. Ibaka also blocked five shots. Kevin Martin was big off the bench for Oklahoma City. Martin was 2-for-4 from deep, 4-for-4 from the line and 6-for-12 overall. He finished with 18 points, and had a couple of big threes in the come back. Russell Westbrook struggled shooting the ball in this game. He was fantastic in overtime, almost cost his team the game. However, when it came down to it, he was fantastic. He had yet another double-double 16 points, 10 assists. Unfortunately, Westbrook was just 7-for-20 from the field. That’s also counting his 3-for-4 in overtime.
Evil Collison did it to Oklahoma City again in the third quarter. He dominated, penetrating the lane and forcing Oklahoma City to collapse the lane, and he was able to assist the ball to his team mates, and the Mavericks extended their halftime lead in the third quarter to as much as 11 points again in the quarter.
Throughout the entire game, it seemed as if Oklahoma City was within striking distance. The Mavericks only led by as many as 11 points, but with Russell Westbrook struggling from the field, it was just a moment away from him scoring and putting the game out of reach.
Oklahoma City tried to push the Mavericks back to an even game, but Dirk Nowitzki would hit a shot with 3:14 left in the game, pushed the Mavericks lead to 70-61. Reggie Jackson nailed a three for Oklahoma City, cutting the lead to 78-73 with :02 left in the quarter, but Dominique Jones nailed a wild buzzer beater to crush the spirit of the Thunder faithful, giving Dallas the 81-73 lead after three quarters.
Vince Carter came out and pushed the Dallas lead in the fourth quarter to 89-79 with 8:25 to go. At this point, Thunder fans were finally feeling like it may have not been their night. Oklahoma City finally found their stroke though. Kevin Durant had nine of the next 11 points for the Thunder. Oklahoma City popped off a 12-4 run to get it within 93-92 with 3:38 to go.
Oklahoma City grabbed their first lead of the game since the 8:45 mark in the first quarter off Durant’s turnaround jumper. Oklahoma City led 96-95. The very next possession, Westbrook, despite his poor shooting night, made the stealof the evening. Then, diving on the floor, Westbrook made the brilliant play of calling a time out with :5.3 seconds to go. Kevin Durant nailed two free throws, giving the Thunder the 98-95 lead with three second to go.
Then the man who has been hot all night for the Mavericks put the Chesapeake Energy Arena in a dead silence. After getting the ball to Shawn Marion with 2.2 seconds left, Marion kicked it out to an open Evil Collison who just floated the ball from three-point range. It was nothing but net the buzzer. With a silenced arena, and a stunned Thunder squad, we go to overtime…
Dallas wasted no time taking the early 104-101 lead in overtime. At this point, as a fan, you just assumed the Dallas Mavericks was getting every break. The crowd was uneasy. There was a weird tension in the air. Then we all realized what it was.
Westbrook who struggled the entire regulation shooting the basketball, and even missed his first shot in overtime, took over the ball game. He awoke and just the lights out. He scored eight straight points for Oklahoma City. Dallas had no answer. With 1:04 left in the overtime period, Westbrook then stole the show defensively by stealing an OJ Mayo pass, and going the distance for the lay up. Ball game. Westbrook and Serge Ibaka nailed their free throws and sealed the come back.
Keys to the Game
Defending the Paint: B
The Mavericks average just 39.5 points per game in the paint. They scored 42 points tonight. However, a lot of it was from slashers and their ability to get by their defender. It wasn’t due to true points in the paint, and I think that’s something Oklahoma City can hang their hat on. The Thunder really contested most shots that came in the lane, and Dallas just hit their shots. Can’t fault them for that.
Russell Westbrook: C
Westbrook was so bad on offense for four quarters. Just really abysmal. Going into overtime, Westbrook was 4-for-16 from the floor. His defense was not there. No, really, It’s like he just stepped aside and let evil Collison dominate. However, his defensive plays in the fourth quarter and in overtime, coupled with his exploding offensive in the fourth, really upped his grade here. I think if Oklahoma City was to lose this game, you could have blamed him. However, they won, and he was a contributor. I didn’t think that would happen, but it did.
Fast Break Points: B-
Dallas is an old team. Their best player played limited minutes, and they still only outscored the Mavericks 20-17 on the fast break. Oklahoma City came into the league number one in fast breaks coring. They could have done a lot better defensively, but hey, we won the game. I’m not going to be too picky on this one.
Ryan’s Thunder Thoughts
- Thabo Sefolosha badly botched an alley-oop pass to Westbrook early in the game. We were all excited for a nasty Westbrook finish.
- Serge Ibaka and Kevin Durant were dominant to start the game, combining for the Thunder’s first 14 points. They ended up being the best offensive weapons for the Thunder the rest of the night as well.
- Westbrook had a beautiful between the legs pass to Kevin Martin on a fastbreak that started with a steal and ended with a rare Martin dunk. It was pretty.
- The Thunder was having defensive struggles early, allowing Dallas to score with ease. Darren Collison was especially able to score, dropping in 14 in the first quarter. Collison had his way with the Thunder most of the game. Maybe if he was trying to show off in front of his former college teammate Westbrook?
- How about that poster dunk from Hasheem Thabeet over Elton Brand? He got the and one opportunity but couldn’t hit the free throw. Unfortunately Dallas got revenge, as Dominique Jones threw down a gnarly dunk in Thabeet’s face.
- It seems as though Reggie Jackson has taken Eric Maynor’s job. If that’s the case, I say we trade Maynor and get something for him while we can.
- Jackson has done well in his minutes as of late. He didn’t shoot too well tonight, but knocked down some threes and crashed the boards well.
- The Thunder offense struggled most of the night. The team took a lot of bad shots and missed a lot of open ones.
- Ibaka had some nasty tip slams tonight.
- Outside of Durant, Ibaka and Martin the Thunder offense was pretty bad in the first half. The team shot just barely over 40 percent overall and was 1-10 from three. In fact, beyond those three nobody had much luck all night.
- However, the Thunder defense picked it up in the 2nd quarter, and for that reason the team was down by just two at halftime, 45-43.
- Ibaka had a double-double at halftime, with 13 points and 11 rebounds (5 offensive).
- The 2nd half started like the first, with Dallas scoring and OKC struggling.
- Midway through the third Durant had a block on one end that he recovered and took all the way back for a filthy dunk over Chris Kaman. He had quite a few nice dunks tonight.
- One has to wonder if the Thunder would’ve even had a chance if Dirk Nowitzki was at full strength.
- Durant was fantastic tonight. He was able to score from everywhere on the floor, and played well on defense as well.
- Some of Ibaka’s best moments came on the offensive glass tonight. He had two HUGE offensive boards in the final minute of regulation.
- Ibaka also had some big time blocks, and he finished with five overall.
- Westbrook had a great strip and called a heads up timeout to get the Thunder possession in the final ten seconds.
- Westbrook did have another rough shooting night, but he had 10 assists and just two turnovers.
- Perkins offensive game is starting to be very frustrating, he was 0-6 tonight. He did have four offensive boards though.
- Wow. Collison’s game tying buzzer beater was amazing. It came from a completely botched play, but it was impressive nonetheless.
- The Thunder was great on the offensive glass all night, finishing with 17 total offensive boards.
- Though Westbrook struggled shooting tonight, he had some big points in overtime. He had a silky smooth jumper from the baseline and then steal and fastbreak layup late in the period. He finished overtime with eight points, and had 16 overall.
- Durant was surprising quiet in overtime. He didn’t score any of his 40 in that period.
- These teams always play such close games. I think it’s safe to say that a rivalry is in place.