Casey Cornett was wondering if, given the crappy recent weather and an indifferent opponent, the Thunder’s string of umpty-eleven sellouts might be broken. I assured him that it would not: “The roads are really bad only to the southwest. And there’s just a hint of bad blood between these clubs.” Um, yeah. Just a hint. And the Mavericks, blah 12-16 record notwithstanding, more than made a game of it: they took the lead four minutes in, and didn’t relinquish it until just inside two minutes left. The Thunder, seemingly miraculously, burned up two thirds of the time remaining, Serge Ibaka grabbing two consecutive offensive rebounds. With the Mavs down three, Darren Collison landed a 25-footer at the horn, and regulation time ended at 98-all.
Then with the Thunder up 107-104 with half a minute left, Kevin Martin fouled O. J. Mayo, who was awarded three free throws. Mayo missed two of them. This should have been a warning: Oklahoma City almost always wins in overtime. Which they did, 111-105. There’s something about those extra five minutes. Russell Westbrook, who was a miserable 4 for 16 in regulation, went 3-4 in overtime, and splashed two free throws besides. That gave him a double-double, 16 points and 10 assists. Ibaka, on the other hand, had entered double-double territory before halftime, and finished with 19 points and 17 rebounds. (The Thunder outrebounded the Mavs, 57-46.) Kevin Martin led the bench with a sparkling 18, and — oh, yeah. Sorry. Forgot. Kevin Durant scored 40.
Dirk Nowitzki was back, sort of, though his minutes were supposedly limited. He still ended up with 26 minutes and nine points. With a -17 for the night, worst on the floor, he was almost ready to be a Telltale Statistic — until you look at the other end of the scale and see Dahntay Jones standing tall with a +7. Jones took two shots all night (a mere 15 minutes as a starter, which explains why we saw so much of Dirk), and missed them both. Then again, Dallas had plenty of offense; Darren Collison ended up with 32, Chris Kaman 17, Shawn Marion 14. It was obvious, though, that OKC was working on throttling Mayo, and it worked: he got a single trey and that one free throw, and that was it. (Bitter statistic: the foul shots he missed were the Mavs’ only two misses.) And really, that buzzer-beater of Collison’s was a thing of beauty in a perverse sort of way: one-handed, one-legged, barely launched in time.
Oh, and attendance? 18,203, same as always. Told ya so. Now to Houston, to deal with The Beard and the Rockets, not necessarily in that order.