So why not have a “home” game in Wichita? The crowd at Intrust Bank Arena was good and loud, and the Thunder, after a rough-ish start, got control of the game in the middle of the first period, thrashing the Dirkless Dallas Mavericks 88-76 and finishing the preseason with a 4-3 record.
In the absence of Dirk, not to mention Shawn Marion and Vince Carter, and even Chris Kaman yet, Rick Carlisle sent youngsters to the corner and parked Elton Brand in the middle. I have to think Carlisle was pleased with rookie power forward Jae Crowder, who picked up a game-high 21 points on 10-19 shooting. Otherwise, things were pretty dire for the Mavs, who trailed in pretty much all the statistical categories.
Scott Brooks, meanwhile, sent out his usual five starters, putting James Harden back in the Sixth Man slot, where he flourished, scoring 16, second only to Kevin Durant’s 18. We still don’t have a clue who’s going to get that 15th roster spot; DeAndre Liggins, suspected (by me, anyway) to be the front-runner, got a DNP-CD tonight, which means — well, nothing, really. And Daniel Orton, Oklahoman writer Darnell Mayberry’s pick for the 15th spot, didn’t play either.
The Real Season begins, of course, with a backbreaker: a trip to San Antonio a week from Thursday, then back home against Portland Friday. The Thunder, in fact, have four and a half back-to-backs in November (one continues into December). Life is like that sometimes.