Game 20: Mavs vs. Thunder

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GAME RECAP: Mavericks 97, Thunder 81

Dirk Nowitzki finishes with a season-high 19 points as the Mavericks get an upset victory over the Thunder, 97-81.

DALLAS — Returning to the court still flying high after a last-second 95-94 victory Wednesday in Memphis, the Dallas Mavericks stepped onto their home floor with revenge on their minds Saturday night.

Hoping to keep the momentum going after Harrison Barnes’ game-winning three-pointer as time expired to conclude Wednesday’s victory, the Mavericks took their home floor with plenty of confidence. The Mavs also sought retribution for a 112-99 road loss to Oklahoma City on Nov. 12, looking to return the favor as the scene shifted to American Airlines Center. And after leading by as many as 26, the Mavericks (5-15) got their revenge in dominating fashion en route to a 97-81 runaway win.

“Tonight, we played a team that is on the second night of a back-to-back, and we’ve played six of these already ourselves where we’re on a back-to-back and the other team isn’t. That is just part of the scheduling thing, and you have to get through that and prepare yourself for an opportunity when it turns your way,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after the win. “Tonight was all about will, chemistry and sticking together. Oklahoma has three guys that are just flat out great players, and we are a team that is made up of our collective units.”

Catching the Thunder (8-11) on the second night of a back-to-back after Oklahoma City’s 99-98 home loss Friday to Detroit, the Mavericks tried to come out of the gates aggressively in the opening quarter. Meanwhile, rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. looked to celebrate his 20th birthday in style, matching up head-to-head against reigning MVP Russell Westbrook.

Instead, the Thunder would open the game on a 9-2 run while holding the Mavericks to 1-of-8 shooting from the field. Smith was also forced to take a seat after picking up his second foul of the night with 7:21 left in the first quarter. However, after back-to-back threes from veteran swingman Wesley Matthews in the midst of an 8-0 Dallas run, the Mavs surged in front. The run turned into a 15-2 spurt after a three-pointer from German big man Maxi Kleber put the Mavericks up 17-11. And despite Westbrook’s 16 points and seven rebounds in the period, the Mavs slid into the second stanza with a 25-24 edge.

Opening the second quarter with a corner three-pointer from 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks tried to keep the Thunder at bay in the first half. Nowitzki stayed on the attack a short time later, lifting the Mavs to a 37-24 lead with 8:12 left in the half after another triple and a three-point play.

An alley-oop connection between Smith and Tunisian center Salah Mejri kept the momentum in Dallas’ favor later in the quarter. Smith’s corner three then gave the Mavericks a 14-point cushion at 48-34. The Mavs then escaped into the intermission with a 52-37 advantage under their belt.

Led by Nowitzki’s 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting, the Mavericks outshot the Thunder through two quarters, 45.5 percent to 35.9 percent. The Mavs also held a 25-23 rebounding edge, converting the Thunder’s nine turnovers into 11 points in the first half.

“We got some shots, and we got a little more energy and a pep in our step,” Nowitzki modestly said of the first half.

After scoring 17 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the first half, Westbrook tried to will his team back in the third quarter. But after Westbrook’s thunderous slam, Smith’s timely three-pointer put the Mavericks up 59-44.

“My main thing is I just told everyone, ‘Keep it at double figures, and don’t let them get within single digits. That will crush them.’ And we did just that,” Smith would later say.

The lead jumped to 17 as Barnes moved into double figures. But with newcomer Carmelo Anthony catching fire from beyond the three-point arc, the Thunder kept the Mavericks from pulling away. A three-pointer from reserve guard Yogi Ferrell settled the Mavs down, however, as the home team extended its lead to 70-53 with 2:19 left in the third. And with triples from Matthews and Nowitzki later in the period, the Mavericks led by as many as 23 before taking a 78-55 advantage into the final quarter.

Swishing another triple early in the fourth quarter to give him a season-high scoring output, Nowitzki tried to personally close the Thunder out. Backup big man Dwight Powell took charge from there, throwing down an alley-oop finish off veteran guard J.J. Barea’s lob pass before driving in for a score to put the Mavs up 25, 85-60, with 9:29 left to play.

Powell also provided a spark at the defensive end of the floor, collecting a chase-down block on Westbrook to get the crowd out of its seats. But the Thunder would quickly charge back to within 15, 85-70, as Westbrook refused to give in. However, Ferrell swished his second triple to force an Oklahoma City timeout with 4:12 left to play. Matthews then delivered a dagger, connecting on a three of his own to put the Mavericks up 93-78 with 1:50 left to play. Both teams cleared their benches the remainder of the way to secure the win for the Mavs.

Scoring a season-high 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting, Nowitzki led the Mavericks to the win while grabbing five rebounds and dishing four assists. Smith pitched in 15 points on his birthday. Barnes added 12 points and 12 rebounds in the first unit, while Matthews finished with 12 points of his own. Meanwhile, Powell registered 10 points off the bench.

“They looked a little tired, and we wanted to make sure to use our energy,” Nowitzki said after the win. “We had two days off for Thanksgiving, and we just played with energy and moved the ball. They didn’t switched a lot, but we tried to catch them switching and cutting. We worked on getting possessions with good shots, and we really won the game on the defensive end, holding an explosive team with unbelievable scorers to 80-something points. We did a great job. Wes battling [Paul George] all night, and we tried to mix it up on Westbrook and Carmelo. It’s just a fantastic team effort.”

Westbrook led two Thunder scores in double figures with 28 points on 9-of-19 shooting, grabbing 12 boards and dishing nine assists to boot. But the Dallas defense held George to only two points on 1-of-12 shooting after his 37-point performance in the first meeting between the teams. The Mavericks also outshot the Thunder for the game, 49.3 percent to 36.2 percent, adding a 43-39 rebounding advantage and converting Oklahoma City’s 17 turnovers into 18 points to overcome their own 17 giveaways.

“We’re getting better, and we’re getting some consistency,” Carlisle concluded. “I should say we’re getting more consistency. You know, we’ve found a starting lineup that works in certain ways. And look, when you’re having a start like we’re having, it’s all about moving the team forward, finding ways to get more stops and maintaining enthusiasm. It can be really tough when you start off with a bunch of losses, some close losses and things like the Boston (overtime) game. But those things have got to be things that strengthen your character and resolve, and they can’t be things that can chip away at it. You know, I see our guys getting stronger, and the schedule is still tough. I mean, Oklahoma City is loaded up with great players, and we’re going to to play next at San Antonio. It has just been a murderous row. But guys are playing whistle to whistle and staying positive. When they made a run and got it to 10, the bench was encouraging everybody else, and we got a group in there that went on a 7-0 run to close the game. So, we’re making small gains. It’s the first time we’ve won two in a row, and the first time we’ve won three out of four. You know, it’s a little bit of momentum, and it’s precious.”

Note: The Mavericks will now travel to San Antonio for a second matchup of the season the Southwest Division-leading Spurs on Monday. San Antonio leads the season series 1-0 after a 97-91 road win on Nov. 14. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing nationally on NBA TV and locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270.

The Mavs return to their home floor Wednesday night at American Airlines Center against the Brooklyn Nets. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out

Thunder

All Stats

PLAYER MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
P. George, SF 39 1-12 0-4 0-0 1 5 6 10 4 0 1 1 -16 2
C. Anthony, PF 26 6-12 4-7 0-0 0 3 3 0 1 0 4 4 -7 16
S. Adams, C 27 3-8 0-0 0-0 3 0 3 0 1 0 3 3 -8 6
A. Roberson, SG 15 0-2 0-2 0-0 1 2 3 2 1 0 2 0 0 0
R. Westbrook, PG 39 9-19 4-8 6-9 1 11 12 9 1 0 4 2 -2 28
T. Ferguson 20 3-5 1-3 0-0 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 -20 7
J. Grant 20 2-6 1-2 4-4 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 -9 9
J. Huestis 2 1-1 1-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 -2 3
P. Patterson 13 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 3 3 0 0 0 1 1 -18 0
R. Felton 24 2-11 2-7 0-0 1 2 3 2 2 1 1 0 -7 6
N. Collison 7 2-2 0-0 0-0 1 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 10 4
A. Abrines 1 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -1 0
D. Johnson 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
P. Dozier 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
D. Hamilton 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
K. Singler 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM   29-80 13-35 10-13 8 31 39 24 12 1 17 15   81
    36.3% 37.1%                      

Show Bench Hide Bench

Mavericks

All Stats

PLAYER MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
H. Barnes, SF 32 5-12 0-2 2-2 2 10 12 3 1 0 3 2 -2 12
M. Kleber, PF 20 3-6 1-2 0-0 2 3 5 0 0 0 2 1 -4 7
D. Nowitzki, C 22 7-10 4-7 1-1 0 5 5 4 2 0 2 1 26 19
W. Matthews, SG 34 4-10 4-8 0-0 0 2 2 1 3 0 2 1 14 12
D. Smith Jr., PG 28 6-14 3-8 0-0 1 1 2 4 1 0 4 3 -16 15
Y. Ferrell 23 2-4 2-2 1-2 0 1 1 2 1 0 1 0 16 7
S. Mejri 23 3-4 0-1 0-0 1 5 6 1 2 4 0 3 -8 6
D. Harris 19 1-4 0-2 2-2 1 3 4 4 0 0 0 4 22 4
J. Barea 16 1-5 1-3 1-2 0 2 2 6 1 0 3 2 13 4
D. Powell 15 5-6 0-0 0-0 1 3 4 0 0 1 0 1 18 10
A. Cleveland 1 0-0 0-0 1-2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
N. Noel 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Withey 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
S. Curry 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
D. Finney-Smith 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. McRoberts 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Motley 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM   37-75 15-35 8-11 8 35 43 25 11 5 17 18   97
    49.3% 42.9%                      

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Matthews With The Steal

Paul George tries to drive on Wesley Matthews but Matthews rips the ball out of George's hands to initiate the fast break.

Matthews For Three

Wesley Matthews steps back to knock down a three-pointer from the top of the key.

Powell Chases Down Westbrook

Dwight Powell chases down Russell Westbrook and swats his layup off the backboard from behind.

Kleber For Three

Yogi Ferrell passes from underneath the basket to Maxi Kleber who hits a three-pointer from the top of the key.

Barea Finds Ferrell

J.J. Barea gets into the paint before kicking out to Yogi Ferrell for a three-pointer.

Postgame: Dirk Nowitzki

Mavs F Dirk Nowitzki dishes on his season-high 19-point performance against the Thunder.

Postgame: Dennis Smith Jr.

Mavs PG and birthday boy Dennis Smith weighs in on Saturday's 97-81 win over the Thunder.

One-on-one with Maxi Kleber

Earl K. Sneed goes one-on-one with Mavs F Maxi Kleber prior to tonight's game against the Thunder.


Practice Report: Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes dishes on his big shot against Memphis, carrying over that momentum tomorrow night against OKC and more.


Shootaround: Rick Carlisle

Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle looks ahead to tonight's matchup against the Thunder.

DALLAS — Welcoming in an Oklahoma City Thunder squad on the second night of a back-to-back, the Dallas Mavericks fully expect to face an angry opponent Saturday night on their home floor.

Surrendering a 15-point lead to the Detroit Pistons, the Thunder (8-10) fell to a 99-98 defeat on its home floor to begin a daunting back-to-back. The Mavericks (4-15) now expect the Thunder to come out energized on the road after that heartbreaking loss one night prior. And according to Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, the Dallas team will have to be prepared to hit first in order to even the season series at 1-1 and collect a second straight win overall.

“Well, this is a tough league, and there’s a lot of very competitive teams,” Carlisle said after studying film of the Thunder’s loss Friday night. “I thought both teams had stretches where they played great. It’s just another one of those low-margin-for-error, one-possession games. … Our whole team has got to find a way to get going early against these guys, ’cause they’ve really got a lot of firepower.”

The Mavericks found out just how challenging the Thunder can be during the first meeting between the teams earlier this month, suffering a 112-99 road loss in Oklahoma City on Nov. 12. The Thunder was also without newcomer Carmelo Anthony (back) in that game, leaning on reigning MVP Russell Westbrook and perennial All-Star Paul George on the offensive end to outshot the Mavericks, 50 percent to 42.5 percent, while scoring 28 points off Dallas’ 20 turnovers. That said, the Mavs will once again be challenged at both ends of the court Saturday night. And while trying to carry over the momentum of Wednesday’s last-second 95-94 win in Memphis, the Mavs will try to rise to the challenge.

“They’ve got three really great, Hall-of-Fame guys, and a very good supporting cast,” Carlisle said with a great amount of respect for the Thunder. “(Steven) Adams is having a great year, (Jeremi) Grant has really picked up his game and the bench has played well against us, so there’s lots of challenges.”

Note: The Mavericks will now return to their home floor Saturday night at American Airlines Center against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Oklahoma City leads the season series 1-0 after a 112-99 home win on Nov. 12. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out

DALLAS — Still riding the wave of emotions after Wednesday’s late-second 95-94 victory in Memphis, the Dallas Mavericks will now attempt to avenge a previous loss this season Saturday night against their neighbors to the north.

Rallying from an 18-point deficit to capture Wedneday’s win on leading scorer Harrison Barnes’ banked-in, game-winning three-pointer as time expired, the Mavericks (4-15) quickly bounced back after a heartbreaking 110-102 overtime loss to Boston two nights prior. The Mavs have now won two of their last three games, looking to continue the improved play Saturday night at home. But after falling to a 112-99 road loss in Oklahoma City on Nov. 12, the Mavs know they will quickly have to put their recent success behind them in order to focus on the task at hand.

“I mean, it’s just putting that beside us,” Barnes said while turning the page on Wednesday’s victory. “I think the biggest thing we’re trying to do is focus on the defensive end. We’ve got a lot of talent obviously in OKC coming to town, so we’ve got to lock in on that. And we’ve got to be ready to go from the start.”

Despite catching the Thunder (8-10) without its full collection of players earlier this month, the Mavericks didn’t have enough firepower to keep pace with Oklahoma City’s star-studded lineup for a full 48 minutes during the first meeting of the season between the two teams. The Mavs will now try to return the favor Saturday night as the scene shifts to American Airlines Center.

Playing the Thunder minus All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony (back) and big man Steven Adams (calf), the Mavericks fought valiantly before eventually suffering a double-digit defeat. The Thunder outshot the Mavericks for the game, 50 percent to 42.5 percent, overcoming a 41-37 rebounding disadvantage with 28 points off Dallas’ 20 turnovers. Meanwhile, the Mavs fell victim to a third-quarter collapse in that game, outscored by the Thunder 39-25 in the period. And after surrendering a game-high 37 points (29 in the second half) on 12-of-22 shooting, eight rebounds and five assists to perennial All-Star Paul George in that loss, the Mavericks will try to execute better at both ends of the floor Saturday night.

“[George] is a great player, and he’s had a lot of big games this year. We’ve just got to keep a great defender on him and make it as difficult as possible,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle explained. “You know, Carmelo didn’t play the last game, so it was just George and [Russell Westbrook] out there in terms of the superstars, but they’ve got a good team. You know, from top to bottom, they’ve got a lot of athletes, they’re well-coached, and so making it hard on all those guys is a big key.”

Note: The Mavericks will now return to their home floor Saturday night at American Airlines Center against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Oklahoma City leads the season series 1-0 after a 112-99 home win on Nov. 12. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out