Final: Thunder 117, Mavs 114
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
The Mavericks shot 64.7 percent from the field in the first quarter, but found themselves trailing 31-25 after the opening frame because of turnovers. Dallas committed seven of them in the first 12 minutes alone, and the Thunder turned those chances into 10 points. Despite shooting just 48.0 percent from the field, OKC logged 31 points in the first frame. That’s why coaches stress the importance of not turning the ball over so much. They give struggling teams extra chances at points.
A good illustration of the relationship between turnovers and efficiency was on display in the second quarter. Dallas shot just 44.0 percent from the field in the second frame after shooting 64.7 in the first, but scored 1.038 points per possession in the second as opposed to 1.000 in the first. The reason? Dallas turned it over just twice in the second quarter after doing so seven times in the first.
Dallas opened up a double-digit lead in the third quarter behind 30 points in less than eight minutes. It included a stretch with 10 consecutive made shots, many of which came off of pushing the ball after Thunder misses or turnovers. The Mavericks are an excellent team in the open floor and they showed it during that run.
This was JaVale McGee’s first game active for the Mavericks. He checked in late in the first quarter and immediately scored on a post-up on the block. The next time down he sank a little baby hook, and then the next time down he threw down a dunk. He had another dunk on his fourth possession of the game, but it was waived off on a close offensive basket interference call. Regardless, it was good not only to see him active, but also to see him aggressive and capable of scoring. His presence in the post on both ends will make a very positive impact on this team.
In the second quarter we saw the advantage of pairing Dirk Nowitzki with an athletic big man. For a stretch spanning several minutes OKC’s Serge Ibaka was guarding Nowitzki, while Enes Kanter checked Dwight Powell. The Mavs ran pick-and-roll after pick-and-roll right at Kanter while Ibaka, the much better shot-blocker, was pulled far from the rim. Powell was able to take advantage of cutting opportunities and lob passes around the rim, leading to a few easy Dallas layups. Opponents will struggle against this team if they put their best rim protector on Nowitzki 25 feet from the rim instead of at the rim against a center. That was certainly the case for Oklahoma City, as the Mavs shot 9-of-11 from the restricted area while Kanter was on the floor in the first half.
Deron Williams threw down a dunk in the second quarter. According to Basketball-Reference, it was his first made dunk since April 5, 2014. He actually attempted a dunk last season with the Brooklyn Nets but missed it. This just goes to show you that, no matter what happens, every NBA game is different.
The Mavs (9-5) play the Memphis Grizzlies (7-7) Tuesday at FedEx Forum. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. Central.