Actually, it only got up to 74 degrees in Dallas today, and come to think of it, the Mavericks weren’t all that hot. But the cold-shooting Thunder managed only ten points in the second quarter and trailed at halftime 50-35. Perhaps something magic might happen in the locker room? If so, it faded quickly: OKC started the third quarter with an 11-0 run, but never pulled even with Dallas until the literal last minute. Over the last 3:30, a late 14-0 run — 12 of those 14 by Russell Westbrook — utterly stunned the Mavs, 92-91. “Quite MVP-y,” said ESPN’s Royce Young.
You had to ask? Westbrook did post another triple-double, though he’d gotten there long before that final push. (He finished 37-13-10.) And it was needed, inasmuch as the bench was decidedly unproductive: six players, 17 points. (Dallas’ four reserved scored 30.) And you gotta wonder how they got 35 points in that fourth quarter when they managed only 35 in the first two. But no matter: it’s a W, the 42nd of the season. If you asked Westbrook, he’d just grin. You can make a case, though, for Taj Gibson as second in command: four offensive rebounds, three in the fourth quarter, six of 10 shooting, and +27 for the night, a game high. And here’s the weirdest statistic I can think of: four of the Dallas starters made double figures. The one who didn’t? Dirk, who hit only 3-9.
On Wednesday, the Magic will be waiting. Orlando is lottery-bound this year, but they can make life miserable for a visiting team. And then it’s back home to take on the Spurs, the same Spurs who have won five straight and who sit only two games behind the almighty Warriors. (Golden State, as it happens, has won seven straight.) Welcome to the crunch of all crunches.