Final: Thunder 109, Mavs 106
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
The good news is Dallas only turned it over twice in the third quarter. The bad news is the club shot just 30 percent from the field in the frame, scoring 0.720 points per possession. One reason is the Thunder were absolutely on fire in the third. Like most other clubs, Dallas performs significantly better on offense after an opponent either misses a shot or turns it over, while the Mavs are less efficient after an opponent bucket. The Mavericks are very dangerous when moving from defense to offense, but it’s tough to get in transition if you’re taking it out of bounds. Kevin Durant caught flames in the third quarter — superstars do that from time to time, so it’s all about regrouping and going from there.
The Mavs shot the ball well in the first half, connecting on 55.6 percent of their field goal attempts. But they also turned the ball over four times — two of which led to catastrophic fast breaks — which really hurt them. OKC turned those four mistakes into six points and scored eight fast break points overall in the first.
Dirk Nowitzki was back in the starting lineup tonight after sitting out Wednesday’s game with a right knee effusion. He had been questionable this morning, but the swelling went down yesterday and today, so the German was good to go. He immediately made an impact, too, scoring twice on Kevin Durant in the post and hitting a pair of three-pointers in the first half. Nowitzki finished with 14 points in his return to the lineup.
Chandler Parsons had another strong showing tonight, finishing with 26 points just two days after scoring a season-high 30. This was the third consecutive game Parsons hit at least three three-pointers, his second-longest in a Mavericks jersey. He again spent plenty of time playing the 4 position too, spending most of his time in the second half at that spot in the lineup. A good Parsons has traditionally meant a good Mavs, and that was the case again tonight, as he finished with one of the best plus-minuses on the team.
The Mavs hit eight three-pointers in the first half alone, including three by Chandler Parsons and a pair from Nowitzki. Much of Dallas’ success in games this season has hinged on whether the team has hit 3s: Dallas is now 13-8 when hitting at least 10 three-pointers in a game.
Wesley Matthews threw down his first dunk as a Maverick tonight.
Surely there are many more to come.
In a bit of an unexpected move, Salah Mejri entered the game in the fourth quarter with the Mavericks down double-digits. Almost instantly, the Mavs took a major chunk out of OKC’s lead. Mejri had a terrific game against OKC earlier this month, scoring 17 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Rick Carlisle opted to give him another chance in this one and it paid off — Mejri earned two shooting fouls and hit a layup all within a few minutes of entering the game, and he’d later forcefully swat a Russell Westbrook layup attempt and stuffed Durant on a dunk attempt. At this rate, it’s looking like Mejri is earning himself some more meaningful NBA minutes, and he looks like he has a chance to be an exciting player.
The Mavs (25-20) play the Houston Rockets (22-22) Sunday at the Toyota Center. Tip-off is at 2:30 p.m. Central.