Final: Thunder 109, Mavs 98
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
Down three point guards due to injury and Dirk Nowitzki due to rest, the Mavs had to find creative ways to generate offense tonight. With the German, the club runs more pick-and-rolls, and without him the offense is more isolation-oriented. Tonight the Mavericks ran 31 isolations, per Mavs analytics, and the team was able to produce 35 points on those possessions. That’s a remarkable clip, as even most good isolation players score closer to 0.9 points per possession.
Harrison Barnes can score in so many different ways, but what stands out to me most about his game is his ability to finish around the rim with his left hand. Whether it’s a running float/hook hybrid shot, or a simple dribble-drive and finish, Barnes has demonstrated he’s got very good command and touch with his weak hand, which will prove to be a useful tool for him throughout his career. It means defenders can’t overplay him to his stronger right hand, and in combination with his fading runner floater shot thing (even he hasn’t thought up a name for it yet), Barnes can now shoot his shot depending on what the defender is showing; he can simply read and react to the situation. His tool box is already diverse, and he’s still only 24 years old.
Justin Anderson enjoyed his third straight game in double-figures. The sophomore went seven consecutive appearances without even playing double-digit minutes, but in his last three games he’s taken advantage of extra playing time and has produced every time out. Credit to him for staying ready and continuing to work hard and focus despite going through what he himself has said has proven to be a tough year. He expected to play more this season, and now that he finally is, he’s not letting the opportunity pass him by.
Stats don’t always tell the whole story; you can still take plenty away from watching the game and paying close attention. Dorian Finney-Smith was tasked with defending Russell Westbrook tonight, and through the first half the MVP candidate scored 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting. Those are impressive numbers for one half. However, he had zero assists and committed two turnovers, so Finney-Smith and the Mavs defense were able to limit his teammates’ involvement, to a degree. OKC shot 25 free throws in the first half, with many of them coming off of Westbrook passes. Still, the Mavs took a lead into the break, and Finney-Smith’s defense had something to do with it. Keep in mind he usually defends 3s or 4s, and tonight he was defending one of the most explosive point guards in the history of the NBA. Westbrook certainly got his in the second half, but he didn’t have it easy. That guy is just that good.
Without Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, and J.J. Barea tonight, Pierre Jackson got his first career start, sharing the backcourt with Seth Curry. Jackson got off to a terrific start, scoring nine points and dishing out four assists through less than two quarters, but he suffered a strained left hamstring and was forced into an early exit. Stay tuned for updates on his status between now and Sunday, when Dallas visits San Antonio. Hopefully he’ll be available, because he played some very nice basketball in the fourth quarter last night against New York, and also tonight against Oklahoma City.
The Mavs (16-30) play the San Antonio Spurs (26-19) on Sunday at the AT&T Center at 6 p.m. Central.