After two hard-fought overtime Thunder/Mavs battles, you had to figure that it would eventually get easier for one of those teams, and fortunately for the downtown crowd, it was OKC who disposed of Dallas rather handily tonight, running up a 33-point lead at one point and ultimately finishing off the Mavs 112-91.
And it didn’t take a 40-point-plus explosion by Kevin Durant to do it, either; KD had a quiet double-double (19 points, 10 rebounds, and the chance to sit out the fourth quarter). The Good Russell Westbrook showed up tonight, hitting 8-16 for 24 points and serving up seven dimes. Kevin Martin led the bench attack with 17 and a preposterous +31 for the night. And all 13 active players got minutes.
I’m not quite sure what went wrong for the Mavs, unless their X Factor really is Vince Carter, who in the past has been quite effective in OKC, and who sat tonight with the infamous flu-like symptoms. Dirk was present but barely recognizable, shooting an unDirklike 3-11 for 10 points, leaving Shawn Marion to carry the offensive load. Marion did what he could, scoring 23 points and accounting for three of Dallas’ seven steals, and the Thunder obligingly committed three technicals to help out, but after breaking out of a 22-22 tie near the end of the first with a 7-0 run, the Thunder simply crushed any further Dallas resistance. Maybe I should have called this “Gone in 11 minutes.”
So it’s three-up on the Mavs with one to play. Next: the Golden State Warriors, who thrashed the Thunder in Oakland during that distended road trip. On the upside, they have to get through Houston tomorrow before arriving in OKC Wednesday.