Dallas Mavericks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: Postgame Grades and Analysis
In one of the most exhilarating games of 2012, the Oklahoma City Thunder picked up a 111-105 overtime victory over the Dallas Mavericks Thursday night.
The Thunder were led by 40 points from Kevin Durant and a 19-point and 17-rebound outing by Serge Ibaka. Darren Collison guided the Mavericks with 32 points, including an out-of-this-world buzzer beater at the end of regulation.
Russell Westbrook's eight overtime points neutralized Collison's momentum, however, and the victory brings OKC to 22-6. The loss drops Dallas to a record of 12-17, including 4-13 on the road.
The question is, how did each player help it all go down?
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Darren Collison, DAL: A+
Before we get into the grades, how incredible was that game-tying three-pointer at the end of regulation? Darren Collison deserves an A+ just for that.
Fortunately, he did much more to earn this rating. Collison made a three-pointer on Dallas' opening possession and never looked back.
Collison would score 16 first-half points, picking his spots within the defense and capitalizing on his quickness. Even with a tough defender in Russell Westbrook on him, Collison would fight his way into the paint and finish with finesse.
The second half was no different. Collison wasted no time in getting up on the scoreboard, draining a contested three in Kendrick Perkins' face. A preview of things to come, as Collison would hit another ridiculous three to force overtime.
For the game, Collison tallied 32 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals. He also made 4-of-4 three-pointers and tied the game as regulation expired.
How about that for a great game?
Russell Westbrook, OKC: A
Russell Westbrook started with eight points on 4-of-16 shooting. He'd make three of his next four field goals and drop in eight overtime points. Thus sealing the victory.
For the game, Westbrook tallied 16 points, 10 assists, five rebounds, three steals and one block. His clutch performance during overtime is what brings him from an average grade to a great one.
Like it or not, how you finish is just as important as how you start. Getting your team a victory is A-worthy.
Westbrook's telling moment came with 5.3 seconds remaining during the fourth quarter, as he pounced on a loose ball. This course of fearless action led to the Thunder sending Kevin Durant to the line and seemingly securing a W.
That is, until Darren Collison made the impossible happen.
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Thabo Sefolosha, OKC: B+
Matched up against a sharpshooter in O.J. Mayo, Thabo Sefolosha was at his defensive finest. He also made a pair of three-pointers during the third quarter.
Smothering D, timely scoring and a veteran presence. What else could you ask for? Sefolosha held Mayo scoreless for nearly three full quarters. When Mayo finally got on the scoreboard, the Swiss 2-man dropped in consecutive three-pointers to respond.
Tack on Sefolosha's three steals and one block and you have a typically solid outing.
During the fourth quarter, Sefolosha stepped up to grab an offensive rebound and drop in two points to bring the score to 93-92. This came with 3:38 remaining in the final quarter, thus proving one resounding truth: When you need a play to be made, Sefolosha will do the dirty work. Anyone who can hold O.J. Mayo to this type of an outing earns respect.
O.J. Mayo, DAL: F
After starting out the season in an All-Star-caliber manner, O.J. Mayo has cooled down in a major way. Thursday night was no different, as he failed to score a point until the 4:04 mark in the third quarter.
That's what Thabo Sefolosha will do to you.
Mayo finished the game with four points, five assists, three rebounds, one steal and one block. He also shot just 1-of-7 from the floor and committed six turnovers and four personal fouls.
A shockingly weak performance by Mayo.
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Kevin Durant, OKC: A+
To sum up Kevin Durant's evening, take a gander at this coast-to-coast play which started with a block and ended with a dunk over Chris Kaman.
Durant continued such a level of play throughout the duration of the game. He finished with 40 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three blocks and one steal. He also shot 13-of-28 from the floor, 4-of-8 from beyond the arc and 10-of-10 from the charity stripe.
KD's signature moment came during the fourth quarter as he posted up Vince Carter and dropped in a contested hook shot to give the Thunder a one-point lead with 1:57 remaining.
Durant would continue to make plays on both ends of the floor when it mattered most. He even dropped in two late free-throw attempts which should have won the game.
A freak shot from Darren Collison prevented such from transpiring.
Dahntay Jones, DAL: C
Dahntay Jones played just 15 minutes and committed three personal fouls. He also missed both of his field-goal attempts.
With that being said, Jones also posted a team-high plus/minus of plus-seven and picked up a steal. So how exactly do you grade someone that played such in-between basketball?
An even C.
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Serge Ibaka, OKC: A+
Serge Ibaka is quietly becoming one of the most well-rounded big men in the NBA.
Matched up against dominant defender Shawn Marion, Ibaka posted his fifth double-double of the 2012-13 season. Not only that, but he had one of the most dominant performances of the season: 19 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor. What else could you ask for?
Ibaka would convert overtime free throws to put this game out of reach and come up with key defensive stops against the slashing Mavericks. I repeat, he had 17 rebounds and five blocks, with just one personal foul and a plus-seven.
Shawn Marion, DAL: A-
Slowly but surely, Shawn Marion flirted with a triple-double.
For the evening, Marion finished with 14 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and a block. During the fourth quarter, Marion made everyone remember why he's famous.
A beautiful baseline floater which countered an OKC run and made it 93-87 with 4:33 remaining. Although it would not lead to a victory, Marion did all he could.
Especially when Ibaka was getting everything to go his way.
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Chris Kaman, DAL: B+
Aside from the fact that he was dunked on by Durant, Chris Kaman had a solid evening.
Kaman continues to shoot the ball well, hitting 7-of-14 from the field and tallying 17 points. He also grabbed eight rebounds and blocked two shots, also dropping all three of his free throws.
Unfortunately, Kaman disappeared during the fourth quarter. Had he showed up and contributed during the final period, Kaman would have secured an A. With Kaman failing to step up when the team needed a scoring boost, however, his grade suffers.
Still, another statistically solid evening from Kaman.
Kendrick Perkins, OKC: C+
What exactly are we supposed to say about Kendrick Perkins at this point in time?
On the right time, Perkins would be an intricate member of a legitimate championship contender. Unfortunately, Perkins is playing for a team that thrives on athleticism and appears to be out of place.
The OT win was a difficult night to gauge his value.
Statistically, Perkins was solid. He finished with seven rebounds, three blocks and an even plus/minus number. He also missed all six of his field-goal attempts and failed to prevent Chris Kaman from scoring during the first half.
Considering Perkins padded his stat sheet in 23 minutes and provided great energy, he earns an above-average grade. The more he sees his minutes capped off, however, the more his role decreases.
A C+ fits this evening.
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Kevin Martin, OKC: B+
With the Dallas Mavericks streaking and the Oklahoma City Thunder stalling, Kevin Martin stepped up with five quick points. His smooth shooting was sorely missed and came through when it mattered most.
For the game, he finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, two assists and one steal.
Although Martin may be an afterthought to the average fan, he is the key to the Thunder's success. With his outside stroke, which led to two three-pointers, Martin proved that Thursday night.
The question for K-Mart is whether or not he can remain healthy. So far, his return from a minor injury looks good.
Dirk Nowitzki, DAL: C
Dirk Nowitzki may not have produced at a significant level, but his presence was felt and welcomed by Dallas.
Dirk played 26 minutes and tallied nine points, six rebounds, one assist and a block. He also shot just 3-of-11 from the floor and 1-of-4 from beyond the arc. A minus-13 certainly doesn't help his cause.
With that being said, the Mavs displayed a newfound confidence with Nowitzki active. Although he may not have stepped up in the clutch, he provided the team with the veteran presence that they've long needed.
A solid C for Dirk.
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Dallas Mavericks: B
Led by Elton Brand, the Dallas Mavericks' second unit had quite the impressive and balanced outing.
Brand finished with six points, eight rebounds and a steal in 21 minutes. He posted a plus-four, which displayed how much better the Mavs were with Brand on the floor.
Unfortunately, minutes at the 4 continue to be tough to come by.
Vince Carter shot just 3-of-10, but each field goal was a three-pointer. Dominique Jones provided an early highlight and was one of six reserves to score at least four points.
The bench finished with 38 points, 20 rebounds, six assists, three steals and a block.
Oklahoma City Thunder: C+
Outside of sixth man Kevin Martin, the Oklahoma City Thunder did not receive the production they had desired from their second unit.
Reggie Jackson performed well, scoring six points and grabbing seven rebounds. He added two assists and two three-pointers, but also hit just 2-of-7 field goals.
Unfortunately, that was about it.
Nick Collison, normally a reputable performer, picked up two points, two rebounds and two assists in 19 minutes. He also posted a minus-seven and failed to get anything going.
The OKC reserves must step it up.