Jason Terry did all he could, dealing in some of his patented fourth quarter scoring to bring the Dallas Mavericks back to tie the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at 85. Then Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook took turns knocking down game-closing shots leading the Thunder on a 10-1 run to close the game and a 95-86 win in Dallas.
Westbrook led all scorers with 33 points, alternately attacking the rim and using that success to pull up for open jump shots. The result was an 11-24 shooting night and taking 10 free throws (he made nine) while scoring 12 in the closing quarter. Durant didn't shoot well (7-19), but hit a turnaround that made it 89-85 and pulled in 13 rebounds as well.
Any fourth quarter possession that didn't feature Terry was a bad one for the Mavericks. Terry only took three shots in the quarter, but made two of them and got to the line for a 6-6 showing there, scoring 10 points in the fourth as the rest of the team shot 3-16. For the game, Terry shot 7-10 for 25 points while his teammates went 23-74 (31 percent).
Painfully, Dirk Nowitzki was among the chief conspirators in the plot to assail the team's offensive efficiency. Nowitzki is clearly having problems with his balky knee as he struggled with creating space with his lower body for his assortment of moves and bricked his way to a 2-15 night, scoring only eight points in 37 minutes.
Perhaps lost in the scoring of Westbrook and Durant was the 10-block night for Serge Ibaka, who did his part in keeping the Mavericks down. Ibaka showed exquisite timing in blocking layups and jump shots inside, part of a 13-block party for the Thunder.
Rick Carlisle, frustrated with poor play and what he thought was one-sided officiating, picked up two fourth quarter technical fouls within two minutes of each other and was sent to his office early. His second technical came after Westbrook slammed a transition basket and the ball rolled over to Carlisle. The Dallas coach then kicked at the basketball, not furiously, but still firmly and the ball sailed off the court and into the second row, hitting a fan. Carlisle immediately went over to apologize and again after he was ejected. Still not feeling he'd shown remorse, Carlisle also publicly apologized in his post-game press conference before taking any questions.
J.A. Sherman at Welcome to Loud City saw when things turned Oklahoma City's way:
The turning point tonight was during halftime when the Thunder finally realized that outside of Jason Terry, the Mavs had nobody else who could consistently score. OKC came out in the 3rd quarter and played exceptional defense, holding the Mavs to only 14 points in the quarter. The Thunder went from being three points down at the half to being up by five heading into the 4th. Given the Mavs' offensive struggles, this reversal of leads proved to be decisive.
For the Dallas perspective, check out Mavs Moneyball.