The Dallas Mavericks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 93-87 in Game 3 of the team's Western Conference Finals series, but it wasn't Dirk Nowitzki doing the damage. Nowitzki had his worst shooting night of the NBA Playoffs, hitting just 7-21 from the floor and drawing only three free throws as the Thunder threw constant double-teams his way. Nowitzki, who was able to punish doubles in a series sweep over the L.A. Lakers, struggled to find the open man without incident in Saturday's game, finishing with seven turnovers. He had 18 points in those 21 shots.
Again, the Mavericks were able to win without Nowitzki going nuts, as he did in Game 1 (48 points, 12-15 FG, 24-24 FT). Shawn Marion put in 18 points on 13 FGAs; otherwise, Dallas did it with defense. Oklahoma City was a painful 1-17 on three-pointers -- many of the misses weren't even close. Both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook struggled from the floor, shooting a combined 15-42. They each scored plenty (Westbrook had 30, Durant 24), but had to do it from the line as the Mavericks defense shut off the valve in the court of play.
That Dallas won Game 3 -- and had such a large lead early -- without Nowitzki playing like gold has to be scary for the Thunder. On the one hand, they should have more confidence in their gameplan to stop him. On the other, the Mavericks know they can win with defense if Dirk struggles.