Game 46: Mavs at Thunder

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Highlights: Harrison Barnes scores 31 points

Watch all 31 of Harrison Barnes' points Thursday against the Thunder.

DALLAS — Entering Thursday’s nationally-televised matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder having won back-to-back games, the undermanned Dallas Mavericks tried to continue surging in the right direction without four of their top veteran contributors.

Hoping to carry over the momentum of Sunday’s 122-73 win over the Los Angeles Lakers and Wednesday’s 103-95 victory over the New York Knicks at home, the Mavericks tried to extend their winning streak to three victories in a row on the road. The Mavs also attempted to make up for the absence of four veteran leaders, taking the court minus 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki (rest), point guard Deron Williams (left great toe sprain), swingman Wesley Matthews (right hip strain) and reserve guard J.J. Barea (left calf strain). But despite a valiant effort without their full complement of players, the Mavericks (16-30) couldn’t continue to trend in the right direction after falling to a hard-fought 109-98 loss.

“To be able to just battle and to have that spirit, it’s not really something you can teach. It’s not really something you can coach. You either have it or you don’t. And I feel like the guys that have been out there every single night have been out there fighting and giving it their all. You know, over the long haul, that’s going to pay off. … That effort, despite the adversity, will pay off in the long run,” Mavs leading scorer Harrison Barnes said after the loss.

Using a starting lineup of undersized guard Pierre Jackson, sharpshooter Seth Curry, undrafted rookie Dorian Finney-Smith, Barnes and center Andrew Bogut, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle rolled out his 16th different first unit this season. Jackson then assumed the early scoring duties, taking advantage of his additional playing time in the process.

Barnes quickly lent some assistance as the Mavericks grabbed an early edge. But with early-season MVP candidate Russell Westbrook coming out of the gates aggressively, the Thunder (28-19) charged back to take a slight lead. Second-year standout Justin Anderson fired back with consecutive three-point bombs to keep the Mavericks close on the scoreboard. And after sixth man Devin Harris scored to beat the buzzer, the Mavericks took a 26-23 lead into the second stanza.

After forcing seven turnovers in the opening period, the Dallas defense tried to remain locked in during the second quarter. Instead, the Thunder surged ahead to take a 29-28 edge on Cameron Payne’s three from the wing early in the period. But with Jackson’s penetration proving to be key, the Mavericks battled back to take a 36-33 lead with 7:34 in the half after the former Development League All-Star’s jumper in the lane.

The Mavs kept their foot on the gas from there, opening up a 44-37 lead after back-to-back triples by Anderson and Curry. But with Jackson doubtful to return after suffering a left hamstring strain, the Thunder started a rally to pull within an arm’s reach. Still, after Finney-Smith answered Victor Oladipo’s trey with a three of his own to close the half, the Mavericks took a 55-53 edge into the intermission.

Holding the slight edge behind 27 combined points from the duo of Barnes and Anderson on 9 of 17 from the field, the Mavericks also benefited from their 9-of-16 shooting as a team from beyond the three-point line. Meanwhile, the Thunder outshot the Mavs as a team from the field, 50 percent to 48.8 percent, adding a 23-13 rebounding advantage to overshadow 11 first-half turnovers.

Inserting Argentine swingman Nicolas Brussino into the first unit in place of the injured Jackson to start the second half, the Mavericks tried to keep Westbrook and the Thunder at bay in the third period. Westbrook had other things in mind, however, putting the Thunder up 60-59 after converting a three-point play over Curry. And after Westbrook dished out his first assist of the night with a long outlet to Oladipo, Carlisle called timeout to work his team out of a 64-59 hole with 9:01 left in the third.

Barnes attempted to intervene, hitting a three to bring the Mavs within two. The Thunder countered with a heavy dose of big man Steven Adams inside, taking a 74-66 lead with 3:53 left in the quarter. Westbrook’s and-one score over Mavs big man Salah Mejri then put the Thunder up by 10, helping Oklahoma City to build a 16-point lead before taking an 87-73 advantage into the fourth.

“They came out real aggressive, and blitzed us in the third quarter. The other three quarters I thought we played extremely well overall,” Carlisle confessed.

Starting the final quarter with an alley-oop connection between Harris and backup big man Dwight Powell, the Mavericks tried to muster up a comeback. The Dallas run continued to 6-0 to start the fourth after Barnes’ lefty drive brought the Mavs within eight, 87-79, with 10:02 remaining. A three by Finney-Smith followed before Barnes’ driving score capped an 11-0 Dallas run to start the fourth.

“It was just gritty defense. There’s really no other way to describe it,” Barnes would later say of the run. “I mean, we just got some stops and we beared down.”

But after Domantas Sabonis’ triple, the Thunder grabbed a 90-84 lead with 8:23 on the clock. Anderson reappeared in the scoring a short time later, bringing the Mavericks within four. However, after back-to-back scores by Westbrook, the Thunder held a 94-86 lead with 5:24 left for the Mavs to respond.

Barnes tried to will his team back into the game, keeping the Mavericks afloat singlehandedly before Curry’s jumper trimmed the deficit to 98-92 with 2:45 remaining. Westbrook then began to close the Mavs out, rising up over Powell for a three before swishing a jumper the next time down the floor. The All-Star guard then delivered the dagger, connecting on a three in front of the Mavericks’ bench to put the Thunder up 106-96 with 55.6 seconds left before the two teams played out the clock.

Scoring 31 points on 13-of-26 shooting, Barnes recorded his fifth 30-point game of the season. Anderson added 17 points and five rebounds off the bench, while Curry and Finney-Smith pitched in 11 points apiece in the first unit.

Westbrook led four Oklahoma City scorers in double figures with 45 points on 16 of 29 from the field, grabbing eight rebounds to boot. The Thunder also outshot the Mavericks for the game, 51.4 percent to 45.2 percent, adding a 43-36 rebounding advantage to overcome 17 turnovers.

“You know, it was a tough way to try to win the game on the road, but I loved the way our guys competed,” Carlisle concluded.

“It was a really good fight,” Anderson added. “We came in, and we kept telling each other the whole game that we believed that we could win this game. I think we did a great job of that. It was a next-man-up mentality, for sure. Guys came out and played as hard as they could, and we put ourselves in a good position. Westbrook got hot there at the end, and that’s tough to answer every time down.”

Note: The Mavericks will now head to San Antonio for a third matchup of the season against the Spurs on Sunday. San Antonio leads the  season series 2-0. The game will tip off at 6 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.

The Mavs return to American Airlines Center on Monday, hosting the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland leads the season series 1-0 after a 128-90 home win on Nov. 25. That 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:

Dirk Nowitzki (rest) — out

Deron Williams (left great toe sprain) — out

Wesley Matthews (right hip strain) — out

J.J. Barea (left calf strain) — out

Mavericks

All Stats

PLAYER MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
D. Finney-Smith, F 40 3-7 2-4 3-4 1 4 5 2 4 1 2 1 -16 11
H. Barnes, F 38 13-26 2-2 3-3 0 2 2 2 1 0 0 2 -3 31
A. Bogut, C 17 3-5 0-0 0-0 1 2 3 0 0 0 2 4 -1 6
S. Curry, G 33 4-12 3-6 0-0 0 1 1 4 1 0 4 1 -19 11
P. Jackson, G 13 4-8 1-1 0-0 1 1 2 4 0 0 0 1 7 9
D. Harris 19 2-5 0-3 0-0 0 3 3 2 4 0 1 4 -2 4
J. Anderson 24 5-11 3-6 4-4 1 4 5 1 0 0 0 2 4 17
S. Mejri 16 1-2 0-0 1-2 3 3 6 0 0 0 1 5 -9 3
N. Brussino 21 1-3 0-2 0-0 1 5 6 1 0 0 2 6 -11 2
D. Powell 13 2-5 0-2 0-0 0 3 3 1 0 1 0 0 0 4
A. Hammons 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
W. Matthews 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
D. Nowitzki 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Barea 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
D. Williams 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM   38-84 11-26 11-13 8 28 36 17 10 2 12 26   98
    45.2% 42.3%                      

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Thunder

All Stats

PLAYER MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
A. Roberson, F 29 0-3 0-2 2-6 1 7 8 2 1 0 1 3 16 2
D. Sabonis, F 29 3-4 1-1 3-4 0 5 5 0 1 0 2 3 4 10
S. Adams, C 36 5-7 0-0 5-6 3 4 7 0 0 0 1 3 26 15
V. Oladipo, G 36 7-14 1-4 2-2 0 3 3 3 3 0 2 2 10 17
R. Westbrook, G 35 16-29 4-8 9-11 1 7 8 3 2 0 4 2 18 45
A. Abrines 16 1-3 1-3 2-2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 5
E. Kanter 9 1-3 0-0 2-4 1 3 4 2 0 1 3 2 -7 4
C. Payne 12 2-4 2-2 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 -8 6
J. Lauvergne 6 1-3 0-1 1-1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 -6 3
J. Grant 21 1-1 0-0 0-0 1 6 7 2 0 1 0 2 -1 2
K. Singler 7 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 -2 0
N. Collison 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
A. Morrow 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
S. Christon 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Huestis 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM   37-72 9-22 26-36 7 36 43 13 7 2 16 17   109
    51.4% 40.9%                      

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Highlights: Mavs vs. Thunder

Check out all the top plays from Thursday night's game against the Thunder.

Harrison Barnes on TNT Tonight!

As the Mavericks get set to take on the Thunder at 8:00pm ET on TNT, check in with Harrison Barnes who has been taking on a bigger role for Dallas.

Finney-Smith Beats the Buzzer

Harrison Barnes kicks it out to Dorian Finney-Smith who buries a triple to end the first half.

Jackson with the Nice Step-back

Pierre Jackson penetrates then hits a between-the-legs step-back and drains the jumper.

OKLAHOMA CITY — Despite carrying over the momentum of back-to-back wins to conclude a 2-1 homestand into Thursday’s nationally-televised matchup in Oklahoma City, the Dallas Mavericks will be without much of their firepower on the second night of a back-to-back.

Already playing without the services of a veteran guard J.J. Barea (left calf strain) for an extended period of time, the Mavericks (16-29) would then see swingman Wesley Matthews (right hip strain) go down in the first half of Sunday’s 122-73 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. The Mavs would lose another key member of their backcourt late in the first half of Wednesday’s 103-95 victory over New York when starting point guard Deron Williams (left great toe sprain) limped to the locker room. And with 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki sitting out Thursday’s game due to a scheduled rest, the Mavericks will be minus four veteran leaders in their first matchup of the season against early-season MVP candidate Russell Westbrook and the high-octane Thunder (27-19).

“I don’t know what we did, but we’ve had some bad luck with injuries,” center Andrew Bogut said after returning from a six-game hiatus with a right hamstring sprain to tally two points, four rebounds, two assists and three blocks in 21 minutes during Wednesday’s win. “Sometimes you have seasons like this. The silver lining is other guys are getting an opportunity to play some big minutes, but obviously, we want all our guys healthy. You know, we feel like if we’re a full roster and everyone is ready to go, then we’re a competitive team. But we haven’t had the chance to really do that.”

Bogut is expected to be available for the shorthanded Mavs during Thursday’s outing after experiencing no setbacks Wednesday night. The Mavericks will now attempt to contain Westbrook, who is trying to be the first player to finish a season averaging a triple-double since Oscar Robertson did so during the 1961-62 campaign.

Westbrook is currently posting 30.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists a night. He’s also coming off a game in which he scored 27 points, grabbed 12 boards and dished out 10 assists Wednesday during a 114-105 win in New Orleans for his 23rd triple-double of the season. That said, the banged-up Mavericks know they’ll have their hands full with the cat-quick guard for 48 minutes Thursday night.

“You know, I think we’ve got to do what we did against L.A., and we’ve just got to carry this forward,” second-year swingman Justin Anderson explained. “You know, be thankful for what we did and kind of look at the great things that we did (the last two games), and anything that we did that was wrong we’ll make the corrections and put it behind us. We’re going to a tough Oklahoma City crowd and a good team, and we’ve got to make sure that we’re ready to play against them.”

Note: The Mavericks will now conclude their back-to-back Thursday in Oklahoma City against the Thunder. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. CT, airing nationally on TNT and locally on 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270.

The Mavs return to American Airlines Center on Monday, hosting the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland leads the season series 1-0 after a 128-90 home win on Nov. 25. That 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:

Dirk Nowitzki (rest) — out

Deron Williams (left great toe sprain) — out

Wesley Matthews (right hip strain) — out

J.J. Barea (left calf strain) — out