Dallas Mavericks Preseason: Thunder 106, Mavericks 92
But, as preseason goes, it was more about seeing young players and getting legs back after the extra-long offseason.
Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd sat this one out, citing the nature of the more condensed schedule and a need to let newcomers Lamar Odom, Vince Carter and Delonte West run the offense and get acclimated in the confines of what Rick Carlisle expects from his players.
A starting lineup including those three along with Shawn Marion and Brendan Haywood played more than 20 minutes each, and spent the majority of the night looking out of sync and short on jumpers.
Carter and West combined to shoot 5-of-18 from the floor, while Odom had an impressive debut that included two threes on the way to 14 points.
The story of this preseason game was the continuing development of youngsters Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominique Jones and Ian Mahinmi. Beaubois and Jones led the team with 17 points each, and Mahinmi showed some spring around the basket, giving fans hope that he can be the long-term answer at reserve center.
Roddy B and Jones are expected to carry the weight when called upon this season, specifically with 39-year-old Kidd and 34-year-old Carter sure to need rest during the 66-game campaign.
Beaubois looked to be fully healthy from the foot injury he suffered in international play two summers ago, and Jones showed some of the burst the Mavericks expected to see him attack the basket with when they drafted him out of South Florida in 2010.
Who impressed you the most in the preseason opener?
Brian "The Custodian" Cardinal even made a lengthy appearance, playing 20 minutes while hitting a three, playing tough D and drawing a charge.
Oklahoma City pulled ahead in the second quarter and never looked back, taking advantage of the Mavericks' lack of chemistry and defensive scheming to shoot 41 free throws and 54 percent from the floor.
Kevin Durant led the way with 21, and James Harden looked to be in midseason form, pouring in 16 and reminding people why he is an early candidate for sixth man of the year.
The two teams will meet again Tuesday in Oklahoma City at the Ford Center, when Dirk and Kidd plan to make their season debut.
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