The Russell Westbrook show is always spectacular, but it doesn’t always end with a win, as the Oklahoma City Thunder lost to the Dallas Mavericks 119-115 with big scoring nights from Chandler Parsons, Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki leading the way.
Westbrook? He didn’t even get to finish the game. For all the talk of change, adjustment and adapting, he’s still a player that’s pushed forward by his emotions. And sometimes his emotions get the best of him. He was called late in the game for a charge. He managed to hold himself from arguing with the referees, but made a careless attempt at stealing the ball on the next possession and fouled out with 59 seconds to go, although the Mavs already held a five point lead.
It was one of those games that makes the Mavericks believe they can do more than just make the playoffs this season. The Thunder are playing without Serge Ibaka, and although Enes Kanter and Steven Adams aren’t easy to score against, it’s hard missing the best shot blocker in the NBA, and not having a center coming off the bench. Small ball with Mitch McGary is Nick Collison is nice, but it takes away some of the fundamentals the Thunder’s defense is based on.
Rajon Rondo didn’t try keeping up with Westbrook’s scoring, but made the most of his over zealous defending. Rondo finished with 13 assists and scored 11 points in what has probably been his best game since the falling out with Rick Carlisle, which doesn’t seem to be an issue anymore. Rondo making the most of the talents around him? That and defense, which wasn’t all that great against the Tasmanian devil known as Westbrook, was why the Mavericks brought him over.
Parsons scored 31 points and was virtually unstoppable any time he had the ball, shooting 10-of-14 from the field. The Thunder actually held the lead during the third quarter but a big Parsons 3-pointer (missing out on the four point play with a free throw miss) tied the game at 92-92 and a good start to the fourth quarter gave the Mavericks the opportunity to hold a small lead until the end of the game.
Dirk Nowitzki always shines against the Thunder, even if Durant wasn’t playing to provide extra motivation. Nowitzki scored 22 points and Monta Ellis scored 24 as the Thunder’s defense found it very difficult to react and adapt to the ball movement and pick and rolls from the Mavericks, opening up a lot of driving lanes all throughout the game.
The Thunder are one man circus show that everyone wants to watch, but as long as it’s all on the shoulders of Westbrook (Scoring 24 points with 8 rebounds, 12 assists but also 7 turnovers), it’s going to remain a very tight race with the Pelicans, now only 0.5 games behind them in the race for the 8th spot. The Mavericks are fifth again after two straight wins with a small lead over the Spurs and Clippers.