Mavericks vs. Thunder: Game 2
Raymond Felton scores 21 points and grabs 11 rebounds as the Mavericks steal Game 2 in Oklahoma City.
Final: Mavs 85, Thunder 84
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
Teams are now 4-10 all-time in Game 2s after losing Game 1 by at least 35 points, per Basketball-Reference. Just to give you an idea of how huge this Mavs win was, it’s barely ever been done before.
Keying the Mavs’ hot start in the first quarter was an offense which not only scored 1.091 points per possession, per team analytics, but also shot 55.6 percent from the field. Although the club did commit four turnovers in the opening frame, the hot shooting for the most part limited the Thunder’s fast break opportunities, which kept the game to a halfcourt tempo that really carried over throughout the rest of the game.
Wesley Matthews and Raymond Felton. Need I say more?
It seemed like the Mavericks had a response to every single Thunder run in this game. OKC launched an 8-0 run early in the fourth to go up seven before Dallas scored 10 of the next 12 to take the lead. That was the story all night long. Dallas simply would not go away. This was one of the grittiest performances of the entire season and it was in a game the Mavs needed to show up for, in one of the toughest environments in the league. That’s nothing to scoff at. The Mavericks really have responded well after almost every lopsided loss this season, from the win that kick-started the late-season tear to this one. Obviously you hate to see a 38-point playoff loss, but after this game the Mavs should feel pretty good about themselves heading home to Dallas. Play this game twice, and who knows where the series will be at after Game 4?
There’s no questioning Deron Williams’ toughness or competitive fire. The point guard started once again, despite suffering from an abdominal strain he’s characterized as a sports hernia. Williams scored 11 of his team’s first 18 points and had 13 midway through the third quarter before ultimately the ailment sidelined him for the rest of the game. His Game 3 status is unknown, but if tonight proved anything, it’s that as long as he can walk, he’s going to try to play. J.J. Barea, meanwhile, missed the game with a groin strain. The hope is he can return for Game 3, but his status too is unknown.
The rookies made some big-time plays in this game, particularly at the beginning of the fourth quarter. On one sequence, Salah Mejri caught a pass on the roll and swung it to Justin Anderson in the corner, who then drove baseline and delivered an on-the-money, behind-the-back pass to Mejri for a layup. On the next defensive sequence, Anderson forced Kevin Durant into a wild turnover. Devin Harris took the ball the other way and missed a running layup, but Mejri was there for the put-back dunk. Then, on the ensuing defensive play, Mejri stayed perfectly vertical on a Durant drive and cleanly contested the shot. Both players not only made some big plays, but also contributed athleticism and some youthful exuberance into a team desperate for whatever energy it can find, no matter where it comes from. Anderson is likely to see plenty of playing time going forward in this series, while Mejri will continue getting plenty of run. Those two are key players in this matchup.
Given what happened on Saturday night, the Mavs’ first-half performance was about as strong as you could have hoped for. Dallas took a 24-20 lead after the first quarter, holding OKC to just 20 points in a frame for the third time all season, including playoffs. The 45-43 advantage Dallas took to the locker room was just the second halftime lead in the season series, postseason included. In other words, the Mavericks played the Thunder better in the opening act than they had basically any other time this season, and that’s even more impressive taking into consideration the lopsided nature of Saturday night’s tilt.
Game 3 is Thursday at American Airlines Center. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. Central. If you have tickets, SKIP WORK AND GET THERE EARLY. Tell your bosses you read this article. They’ll understand.