Hard to put this loss into words. The Thunder led by 13 points at the 4:33 mark in the fourth quarter. Then, Harden fouled out. From then on out, the Dallas Mavericks outscored Oklahoma City 26-6. Including 11-4 in OT. Dirk Nowitzki turned on the charm and put up 14 points in the fourth quarter and OT. Nowitzki scored 13 points in the final 9:33 of the game.
Thunder started out hot from the floor, hitting their first 6 shots and increasing an early lead. They lead by as much as 11 in the first quarter as the Thunder lead by a max of 15 points with about five minutes remaining in the game.
That’s when the collapse happened. Silly turnovers. Settling for jumpers. Stale offense, over helping on defense. Stupid, stupid fouls. As Harden picked up his sixth foul with 4:33 remaining in regulation, OKC led 99-86. All was well in good in OKC at that point. Dallas, which had been deplorable from three point range (6-22 (27.2%) before foul out), hit 2 of 3.
Oklahoma City on the other hand couldn’t do anything. Kevin Durant didn’t score the final 10 minutes of the ball game. Durant and Russell Westbrook combined to go 1-12 in the final 9:33, including 0-6 from three point range. We’re not even getting into silly mental lapses by this team. It was very obvious that the youth got to them in the final minutes of the game. The veteran team kept their cool, while the young guns panicked.
Here’s a box score of the final 9:33.
Courtsey of Steve Aschburner NBA.com
Let’s break down the keys to the game.
Hot Start: Thunder started out hot, hitting their first six shots. Pushed the lead to ten points at 18-8. Dallas made a late run against the second team basically. Which was understandable, Dallas kept starters in a little longer. Thunder led 31-22 at the end of one quarter. Thought the hot start would push the Thunder to victory.. or so we thought…
Three Point Shooting: 3-30. That’s what the Thunder have shot the past two games. 1-17 in Game 3, 2-13 in Game 4. KD and Westbrook combined for 0-6 in the final 9:33 of the game. A lot of the threes were desperation 3’s.
Thunder played great defense on the perimeter. Every three point shot that Dallas hit was contested, even the Kidd 3. He had to step back to even get a look. The Dirk three late in the game had a hand in his face. Dallas finished 8-25 (32%). However, before Harden fouled out, Dallas was 6-22.
Be Agressive: HAH. Dallas shot 14 more free throws than the Thunder. I’m sure that was skewed by the late game fouling situation OKC fell into in desperation. However, we settled for jump shots. We didn’t have our shot blocked very often, which leads me to obviously believe we weren’t being aggressive enough. We need to shoot more free throws than the Mavericks to win ball games like this.
Needless to say this loss is a dagger. I didn’t sleep well. It felt like my wife just left me if I was married. Now I know how the 1992 Houston Oilers feel.
BUT! Thunder fans! Not all is lost. There is still 3 games to play. We have the ability to win these. Will we? Maybe. Must keep a positive face. I mean Kevin Durant said he thinks he let the city down. He’s done everything but that. He’s taught us to love a Longhorn in a state where we hate Texas. He taught us humility and to appreciate what we have. Hard to believe we just won 23 games two years ago, and now we’re fighting for our basketball lives in the Western Conference Finals.
Question Thunder fans, would you rather this loss end your season or are you glad you have another game to get this taste out of your mouth? I know I am. I don’t know how I’d react if this was the way we ended our season. Game 5 in Dallas on Wednesday.
Another thing, I got some Maverick’s fans to take a picture with my “Dallas Sucks” sign I had made on a whim. Great sports. That fist is from @CaptThunderOKC.
One more thing before I get off my soap box, all you Thunder haters calling for Scott Brooks’ job really need to watch this team more. You’re either a fairweather fan or you’ve never really watched this game. Getting from 3-29 to where we are now is a combination of coaching and talent. Brooks draws up the plays and the players are supposed to run them. You cannot blame Brooks for settling for three point shots or Westbrook diving for a ball that was obviously off of Terry. Can’t blame Brooks for Harden’s foul out. Can’t blame Brooks for the phantom calls on Collison guarding Dirk.
Just be grateful with what we have. I’m sure the players hear the hatred and the negativity. They’ve never dealt with the adversity that they’re going to deal with for game 5. We need to support them, win or loss. Greatest team in the greatest city in the United States.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!