Maybe it’s a team finally coming together, or maybe it’s just the challenge of facing the Oklahoma City Thunder. Either way, the Dallas Mavericks gave their best performance of the short season Monday night, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-87, handing the Thunder their first loss of the season.
If anyone was looking for some sort of Kevin Durant – Russell Westbrook drama after the Thunder dropped a game for the first time in 2012, forget about. Now 5-1, the Thunder’s problem have nothing to do with blown out of proportion argument the two had on the bench last week.
Dirk Nowitzki led the way for the Mavs with 26 points, but the most surprising thing about Dallas’ night was the hustle, the passion, the energy. We’ve seen glimpses of it in the previous game between the two, the one which the Thunder won with Kevin Durant hitting a huge three pointer. Not this time. Suddenly, defense was not an obscene word. Vince Carter actually showed up. The Mavs didn’t get beaten on the boards.
Nowitzki himself? He wasn’t surprised – This team is set up to get better month-by-month. We should have a good team in March and April. Saying that, we’ve still got to find ways to win. … This team has a lot of potential, with a lot of scorers, a lot of veterans who know how to play. We can be a very dangerous team.
Problem with the Mavs so far this season is that their effort hasn’t been consistent, or hasn’t been there at all. Suddenly, coming after a pretty bad loss to the Timberwolves a night before, someone fed them energon cubes or something along that line. Vince Carter scoring 14 points in 23 minutes? Being aggressive, getting into the paint and going to the line? Who would have guessed?
Lamar Odom has yet to show his true worth, scoring 8 points, but at least he didn’t have a 1-a lot shooting kind of night. Jason Terry was big from the outside, finishing with 15 points. Jason Kidd? Struggling offensively, to say the least. He didn’t score at all, taking only one shot during the game. He did finish with nine assists and five rebounds.
As for the Thunder, it was a story of lacking energy, focus and commitment from the first minute. Scott Brooks said he saw too many one-on-one’s from his team. Eyes immediately go to Westbrook, who did finish with 18 points and 8 assists. Not his fault this time. He should be spreading the ball more, but this was a team loss, with no one but James Harden (16 points) giving enough to help Durant and Westbrook.