Final: Mavs 104, Thunder 89
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
The Mavs scored 60 points in the first half, the fourth time in the 24 games since the lineup change with at least 60. They’d reached that mark just three times in their first 38 games of the season. Dallas is now 7-0 this season when scoring at least 60 before the break.
Seth Curry reached double-figures for the 20th time in his last 22 appearances, and scored 20 for his fourth straight game and fifth in his last six. Four ties the longest streak by any Mavericks guard since Monta Ellis scored 20+ in five straight games in November 2013, per Basketball-Reference. Harrison Barnes also has a streak of five straight games of his own this season at the forward spot.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 18 points tonight and is now just 20 away from 30,000 for his career. He’ll become just the sixth player in NBA history to reach that milestone.
Dallas is now 15-9 after making the lineup change on Jan. 12. That’s a 51-win pace. The incredible mid-season turnaround continued tonight with another quality win against almost a certainly playoff-bound Western Conference team, the Mavs’ second in three days. Most encouragingly, the team is so much more athletic now than it was three weeks ago. Nerlens Noel and Yogi Ferrell bring a quickness to their position that Dallas hasn’t had in some time, and Seth Curry continues to be a mismatch nightmare for switched bigs. Those elements alone have helped to propel this team forward on both ends of the floor, and the added boosts off the bench from Salah Mejri, Devin Harris, and Dorian Finney-Smith give the Mavs the possibility to play 48 minutes of hyper-quick, end-to-end basketball. That’s going to help them as they continue to make this playoff push.
The Mavericks really seemed to create quality shot opportunities whenever they wanted. The offense looked smooth and comfortable for virtually the entire game, which is a testament to the guards as much as anything, including the still-new Quinn Cook. Russell Westbrook is tremendous at causing chaos on that end by blitzing passing lanes, but the Mavericks rarely put themselves in position to commit a catastrophic turnover. And when the ball is moving the way it was tonight, that’s going to lead to good things more often than not. The Mavs’ offense has been on cruise control since the Noel trade, and it’s been awfully fun to watch. Wesley Matthews and Devin Harris found Noel for alley-oops on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter, which is an encouraging sign. As the 22-year-old center continues to practice with his new teammates more, they’ll all likely become more aware of where he’ll be in certain situations. More importantly, though, they simply need to get used to looking for him. Before this trade, Dwight Powell was the only player Dallas could throw lobs to, and he was never playing a huge amount of minutes. Now they have Noel, and he can play 35 minutes a night, which means there can be a lob threat on the floor for 48 minutes if that’s how Dallas wants to play it. That lone can open up things on the outside for the offense, and we’re starting to see those benefits.
This was the Mavs’ third straight home win and fifth in their last six games. Why is it notable that Dallas is defending its home court so effectively lately? The team’s next three games all come at home: Lakers on Tuesday, Nets on Friday, and Suns on Saturday. Considering how tight the playoff race is at the moment, the Mavericks need every win they can get, and with three straight games coming up against teams currently out of the playoff picture, this is as good a time as ever to keep that home cookin’ going.
Wesley Matthews returned to action tonight and made it clear pretty quickly why he was missed during his brief absence. He played some phenomenal defense in the third quarter, but unfortunately just before the end of the frame, while attacking the offensive glass in a way that would impress even Russell Westbrook, the second-year Maverick landed awkwardly and stayed on the floor for a moment, before rising and walking directly to the locker room. He returned to the bench a few minutes later and did check back into the game in the fourth quarter. Stay tuned for any updates as they come.
The Mavs (26-36) will play the Los Angeles Lakers (19-43) on Tuesday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.