Rick Carlisle’s offense, at least as manifest this evening, can be simply described as “Give Dirk the ball.” In terms of operating efficiency, it can’t be beat: Nowitzki hit 12 of 15 from the floor and 24 of 24 from the stripe, a solid 48-point performance. Then you look at the other four starters, and you see that only one of them Shawn Marion even broke ten, and he fouled out with three minutes left. Not that this matters a great deal in the grand scheme of things, but clearly the Mavericks are playing a Dirkcentric sort of game, and various Thundermen took their turns not quite defending Nowitzki. Oklahoma City pulled to within five a couple of times in the fourth quarter, but Dallas wasn’t having any of that noise, and the Mavs won it by nine, 121-112.
Then again, from the OKC point of view, three things happened: Kevin Durant scored 40, Russell Westbrook was wearing his Rim Repellent fragrance (3 of 15? ye gods), and Scott Brooks, who normally makes Clark Kent look like Sam Kinison, was T’d up for some uncharacteristic insolence. The Thunder actually picked off a couple more rebounds than the Mavs. But here’s your Telltale Statistic: Dallas sixth man Jason Terry (24 points) outscored the entire OKC bench (22).
Still, this isn’t any reason to despair. Dirk is Dirk, but he ain’t Apollo. There was a stretch during the fourth quarter in which nobody for Dallas was scoring but J. J. Barea. Okay, Barea had 21, but still, this thing is doable if (1) Westbrook breaks out of his funk and (2) someone Serge Ibaka? figures out how to slow down Nowitzki, or at least block one of his shots once in a while. (Dirk’s BA tonight: zero.) There’s another chance on Thursday, and then things come back north.