Playing as a center suited Dirk Nowitzki very well in the absence of Tyson Chandler, and together with Chandler Parsons formed a very dynamic and difficult to stop duo as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-107, enjoying the awful performance from Russell Westbrook.
According to Nowitzki, he joked with Rick Carlisle after being told he was going to start at center for the Mavericks, suggesting his coach was drunk. Nowitzki ended up doing pretty well as the only big man on the floor for his team, scoring 30 points in the Mavs’ version of small ball, which was usually their best lineup on the floor. Chandler Parsons thrived in the mayhem as well with 26 points, including five 3-pointers. If there’s a team and head coach that are always baffled by small ball, the Thunder and Scott Brooks are exactly that.
After a few games of playing like the best player in the league, Russell Westbrook went back to self destruct mode. Misses don’t affect him. Westbrook attacks the basket and keeps on doing so regardless of what actually happens at the end of these plays. He did score 18 points but did more harm than good for his team, shooting 6-of-23 from the field and turning the ball over five times, including a foolish pass in a game filled with bad decisions from the point guard as the Thunder were attempting to make their comeback late in the game.
The Thunder did dominate the boards (53-37, 14 offensive rebounds) and Serge Ibaka had an opportunity to be his team’s best player for once with 26 points, missing only three of 14 field goal attempts. However, the damage done by Westbrook’s decision making late in games (and Reggie Jackson was there to “help” as well) is almost too great to overcome with anything. However, Kevin Durant might have been able to negate that.
This was a game about the Mavs’ starting five and nothing else, playing with three point guards as J.J. Barea started next to Rondo and Ellis. Rondo scored 15 points with 7 assists in his battle with Westbrook, finishing with his hand on top, while Monta Ellis added 18 points although he had a nice battle going with Westbrook about who is going to be the least efficient player on the court. Ellis was close (6-of-20 from the field), but ended on the right side of the equation in this case as well.