The ability to beat the Dallas Mavericks on any given evening is not an inconsiderable weapon to have in one’s armory. This is something the Thunder have been perfecting over the last few seasons, despite the best efforts of Dirk Nowitzki and some of the best tricks pulled out of Rick Carlisle’s hat. Exactly how it’s done on any given evening will vary; tonight, it was simply executing better in Game 4 than in Games 1 through 3, assuming “executing better” can be stretched to include 23 turnovers. OKC was up five at the half, ran it to nine after three, and won it by 14: 107-93.
Then again, this version of the Mavs differs much from previous editions: Samuel Dalembert, sort of a faster-talking Kendrick Perkins, anchored the middle, and José Calderón ran the point. What’s more, they’ve acquired Monta Ellis, who could play 53 minutes a game if he had the chance. Ellis led the Mavs with 20 in a mere 40 minutes. But for sheer ferocity, you have to go with Vince Carter, scoreless in fourteen, who drew a foul from Steven Adams, then directed an elbow in the general direction of Adams’ schnoz. Carter was escorted to the exit with a Flagrant Two. Oh, and Dirk had sixteen despite being bottled up at every turn.
Obvious points of Thunder failure have been addressed: Serge Ibaka not only seemed to have his shot back, he posted a double-double (17 points on 8-10 shooting, 13 rebounds). Russell Westbrook, who did everything well Sunday except shoot, shot well: 10-20 for 22 points. And Kevin Durant paired up a game-high 23 points with 10 assists. Reggie Jackson looked like he was going for a big line, but a hip contusion sent him to the locker room. Jeremy Lamb hit three of five treys for a bench-leading 13 points. Any day they want to shoot 54 percent from the floor is fine with me.
Next outing: in Auburn Hills against the Pistons, who by all accounts have had their rods polished, or something.