Final: Thunder 108, Mavs 89
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
The Mavs scored 12 points in the paint in the first quarter while also attempting 11 three-pointers. Normally when a team scores that many points in the lane, you don’t see as many treys in one quarter because so many shots come at the rim instead. But Dallas truly played “MoreyBall,” a nickname for Houston GM Daryl Morey’s preferred brand of basketball that encourages nothing but layups and three-pointers.
With Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons, Wesley Matthews, and Deron Williams all out for rest and Zaza Pachulia out with a sore Achilles, the Mavs trotted out a starting lineup of J.J. Barea, Raymond Felton, Jeremy Evans, Charlie Villanueva, and JaVale McGee. We saw a similar group take down both Houston and New Orleans earlier this season. As the number of back-to-backs increases for this team, it will be interesting to see how often Rick Carlisle opts to rest his heavy lifters and let the reserves take on the load of playing more minutes. Playing the reserves certainly requires more coaching creativity, and Carlisle answered the bell by opening the contest in a 2-3 matchup zone, just another wrinkle to throw at the Thunder that the club might not have been expecting.
In many ways, these games are just as interesting and exciting as games when we get to watch Dirk and the boys go to work. Low-minute players like Evans, Justin Anderson, and Salah Mejri are given opportunities to make an impact and potentially impress the coaches enough to earn more playing time in typical games as the season wears on. It’s fun to watch the younger guys develop and grow in front of our own eyes, and considering this might not be the last time the Mavs use this strategy, we’ll likely have more chances to see it happen.
Mejri earned some playing time in this one. The 29-year-old hasn’t found many minutes so far with the Mavs, but he’s played well in several games with the Legends in the D-League. He scored his first NBA points on a dunk in the second quarter.
He later threw down a vicious dunk right over Serge Ibaka, one of the best shot-blockers in the league over the past several seasons and would stuff another one through shortly after.
The first half wasn’t lacking in drama. After an altercation between Barea and Russell Westbrook, each player earned a technical foul, and so did Ibaka. Meanwhile, Villanueva was ejected. Later in the second quarter, Westbrook would earn another T and would be ejected. OKC comes to town next Friday night. You excited yet?
The Mavs (22-18) play the Chicago Bulls (22-15) Friday at the United Center. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. Central.