Mavericks vs. ThunderThe Mavs completed the first night of a back-to-back with a rout of the rival Thunder Sunday night.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Despite entering Sunday having dropped seven straight in Chesapeake Energy Arena and 11 in a row combined in the regular season and playoffs at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Dallas Mavericks stared a golden opportunity square in the eyes.
With the Thunder opting to rest point guard Russell Westbrook on the front end of a back-to-back, the Mavericks turned their attention solely to slowing down scoring leader Kevin Durant. Meanwhile, the Mavs tried to finish off a three-game road stretch with a statement win to send a message to the Thunder in a potential playoff preview.
And without Westbrook in the lineup the Mavericks (40-27) quickly proceeded to dominate their neighbors to the north, sprinting to a 109-86 victory before returning to Dallas to begin an eight-game homestand.
“We played well. And look, they’re down a great player, so we caught a break there. But you’ve still got to go out and play,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of the win. “They’ve had a great record with and without Westbrook, so it’s a game we needed. I mean, we need every one with the battle that we’re in, and we did some good things.”
One game after moving into sole possession of 12th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki again looked to be aggressive in order to get the Mavs off to a hot start. But, without Westbrook in the lineup, the Thunder’s duo of Durant and big man Serge Ibaka kept the home team in the game early. Still, thanks to stellar outside shooting led by point guard Jose Calderon, the Mavericks slid into the second stanza with a 29-23 edge.
“We came out there and took them out of everything they wanted to do pretty much,” forward Shawn Marion said of the quick start. “We made it hard for them and we were moving the ball. And everybody was helping each other.”
“I thought we did a good job,” Nowitzki added. “Sometimes when a star player is out you take a breather and kind of ease into the game. But we talked about it before of how we wanted to set the tone. That was fun to watch.”
Behind Nowitzki, the Mavs would stretch the separation on the scoreboard to double digits early in the second quarter. Reserve guard Devin Harris also provided a spark off the Dallas bench, but Durant would continue to lead the Thunder (48-18) charge while Ibaka took over the defense. However, after a barrage of scoring from Marion, the Mavericks took a 59-48 advantage into the intermission.
Led by Marion’s 12 first-half points on 5-of-9 shooting, the Mavericks’ 51.2 percent as a team bettered the Thunder’s 39 percent through two quarters. The Mavs also overcame a 19-18 rebounding deficit with a 22-12 scoring margin in the paint.
After allowing 20 points to Durant in the first half, the Dallas defense looked to corral him in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Nowitzki began to assert himself at the other end of the floor, draining a 3-pointer from the wing to put the Mavs up 14. And despite a technical foul called on Nowitzki for arguing with officials, the Mavericks surged ahead behind the play of sixth man Vince Carter and backup big man Brandan Wright before taking a 91-70 lead into the fourth.
“More than anything we just had to move the ball and make the right play,” Carter would later say after passing 23,000 career points. “We played an unselfish game tonight.”
With Carter still stroking the hot hand, the Mavericks continued to keep the Thunder at bay in the final period. The lead then peaked at 26 before Carlisle pulled his top contributors down the stretch with the win in hand.
Finishing with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting, Marion led the Mavs to the win while also grabbing six rebounds. Off the bench, Carter added 18 points and Nowitzki pitched in 17 points in the first unit. Calderon scored 16 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out seven assists. Meanwhile, center Samuel Dalembert made it five Mavs in double figures with 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting inside.
“We tried to attack from all angles and we tried to keep the ball moving and have multiple guys score, so that was good for us,” Nowitzki said.
“It’s just one of these nights where our balance is big for us. We had a lot of guys contribute,” Carlisle added.
Durant led three Thunder scorers in double figures with 30 points on 8-of-20 shooting, but the Mavericks’ 53.3 percent from the field bettered the Thunder’s 36.7 percent. The Mavs also collected a 42-33 rebounding advantage and 40-22 margin in the paint, overcoming 18 Oklahoma City points off 18 Dallas turnovers.
“Definitely a great one to have against one of the best teams in the West,” Nowitzki said. “We really set the tone I thought early. We wanted to attack. Defensively, we wanted to make it hard on K.D. and we wanted to keep them off the glass. … I thought we accomplished most of it.”
“We had to clean some things up at halftime with rebounding. We did and we had four good quarters. It’s a plus for us, and we’ve got to move on to tomorrow,” Carlisle concluded.
Note: On the second night of a back-to-back, the Mavericks return to action at American Airlines Center Monday while hosting the Boston Celtics. Dallas leads the season series 1-0 after a 102-91 road win back on Feb. 9. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.
|Shawn Marion, F||30||8-12||2-2||1-2||2||4||6||0||2||0||2||0||18||19|
|Dirk Nowitzki, F||29||6-12||2-3||3-3||1||3||4||2||1||0||2||1||11||17|
|Samuel Dalembert, C||20||4-4||0-0||2-2||0||3||3||0||2||1||2||3||9||10|
|Monta Ellis, G||30||2-7||0-0||5-6||0||1||1||7||0||0||2||2||6||9|
|Jose Calderon, G||29||6-11||4-8||0-0||0||5||5||7||2||1||1||1||18||16|
Oklahoma City Thunder
|Kevin Durant, F||33||8-20||4-8||10-11||1||3||4||4||0||1||4||0||-16||30|
|Serge Ibaka, F||32||8-19||0-0||3-4||3||3||6||2||0||2||0||1||-9||19|
|Steven Adams, C||11||0-0||0-0||0-0||1||1||2||0||0||0||1||3||-10||0|
|Andre Roberson, G||23||1-3||0-1||0-0||1||3||4||0||2||0||1||5||-6||2|
|Reggie Jackson, G||31||4-8||2-4||3-4||1||3||4||3||0||0||3||2||-11||13|
Athletic SlamBrandan Wright skies and finishes with a monster slam.
Harris to WrightBrandan Wright takes the pass and finishes with a ferocious slam.
Ellis to DalembertSamuel Dalembert takes the pass and finishes with an easy slam.
Nowitzki, Mavericks Stun ThunderMavericks vs. Thunder: Dirk Nowitzki scores 17 points and grabs four rebounds as the Mavericks defeat the Thunder in OKC.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Since handling the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games of the 2011 Western Conference Finals en route to the first NBA title in franchise history, the Dallas Mavericks haven’t been able to conquer their neighbors to the north.
Including a first-round playoff series sweep the following year, the Mavericks (39-27) have dropped 11 straight at the hands of the Thunder (48-17). The Mavs will now try to raise their level of play Sunday in a potential playoff preview, looking to send a message should the two teams meet again down the road.
“When they first started to draft all these guys, we beat them pretty regularly. But you could see how much potential they were going to have,” 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki said of the Thunder. “When they drafted [Jeff] Green, [Russell] Westbrook and [Kevin] Durant, you knew the sky was going to be the limit and they got better from year to year. They’ve definitely arrived the last couple of years. I mean, Durant is one of the best scorers we have in this universe and Westbrook is probably as explosive as a guard as there is in this league. They’re tough to guard, so we’ve got to try our best and we’ve got to run back. They’re very good in transition, and we’ll go from there.”
Looking to conclude a three-game road stretch on a high note and trying to avenge a 107-93 road loss back on Nov. 6, the Mavericks will attempt to corral Durant and Westbrook while also battling the hostile Chesapeake Energy Arena crowd. More importantly, the Mavs will try to remain afloat in the heated playoff race, battling Memphis and Phoenix for the final two positions in the standings.
Meanwhile, the Mavs will try to use a three-day layoff to their advantage following Wednesday’s 108-101 win in Utah, expecting to take the court rested and at full strength as second-year forward Jae Crowder looks to return from a two-game absence with an abdominal strain and reserve guard Devin Harris battles a sore right Achilles.
“Well, we’re hoping that we’re going to be healthier going into this game,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “The prospects right now look good. Jae got through a couple of days here, Devin’s doing well, and health is a big part of it this time of year. … Look, whatever the situation, you make the best of it. And that’s what we’ve tried to do here.”
Note: The Mavericks conclude a stretch of three straight road games Sunday in Oklahoma City, taking on the Thunder for a second time this season. Oklahoma City leads the season series 1-0 after handing the Mavs a 107-93 road defeat back on Nov. 6. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 6 p.m. CT.
On the second night of a back-to-back, the Mavs return to action at American Airlines Center on Monday while hosting the Boston Celtics. Dallas leads the season series 1-0 after a 102-91 road win back on Feb. 9. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.