Game 36 Recap: Mavs vs Thunder

Image Credit: @MavsPR Twitter

On Thursday, the Dallas Mavericks played the Oklahoma City Thunder on the second night of a back-to-back. This comes on the one year anniversary (to the day) which the NBA shutdown last season due to Covid-19 impacting the sport. It has been remarkable on how far this sport has come since that shocking moment. The Mavericks look to secure their fifth win in a row against the Thunder.

On this day on March 11th, 2020 the NBA decided to postpone their season last season as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Mavericks were at home playing the Denver Nuggets as that game would be dubbed “The Boban Game” as Boban Marjanovic would score a career-high 31 points for the Mavericks in the 113-97 victory before the league shutdown until July. We would soon find out that it would be the last game with fans at the American Airlines Center until February 8th, 2021. We would strongly encourage you to continue to wear your masks as it helps contain the spread and it helps save your loved ones lives. Mark Cuban has slowly but surely allowed more and more fans to be at the American Airlines Center and expects the capacity to be at full strength in the later parts of the season. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost a loved one due to this deadly pandemic as it has claimed more than 500K deaths in the United States. Please do everything that you can to protect your family and friends from this virus. We would like to thank every single front line essential worker, all the first responders, healthcare workers, nurses and doctors that do everything they can to help us beat this virus. Your work doesn’t go unnoticed, thank you for helping us. We would also like to Thank You, personally, for continuing to wear your masks. It is remarkable that one year later, we would have vaccines to help contain this virus and slowly but surely return to as close to normal. If you are eligible to get this vaccine, please recommend getting it, that would not only help you, but it will help your friends and family as well. We will slowly but surely beat this virus and then we will reach the end of the tunnel, where there’s light. Allow me to remind you to never take another day for granted as you don’t know what will happen tomorrow, just like what happened one year ago, so enjoy this day while it’s here, tell your loved ones that you love them and spend every single second that you can with them because tomorrow is not promised.

On Wednesday, the Dallas Mavericks played the San Antonio Spurs in the first game back from the All-Star break. Prior to this game getting underway, word had broken out that the Spurs and LaMarcus Aldridge agreed to part ways and look to find Aldridge a new team. The Spurs would go on to lead the Mavericks 59-52 at halftime. In a typical Spurs vs Mavericks game, this was close until the Mavericks used a late run in the fourth quarter to pull away and beat the Spurs 115-104. Luka Doncic finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists that resulted in his 33rd career triple-double while Kristaps Porzingis had 28 points and 14 rebounds. With the win, the Mavericks record improved to 19-16 on the season and extended their winning streak to four games. The Mavericks are now 10-2 in their last 12 games and a season-best 3 games above .500. The word would come out that the Mavericks have changed their attendance policy and admitted 3,500 fans, an increase of about 1,000. Everyone attending a Mavericks game at the American Airlines Center is still required to wear a mask in accordance with NBA rules. Masks look good on you and what a better way to show that you’re an MFFL (Mavs Fan For Life) than wearing your Mavericks mask at the American Airlines Center or in public.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are coming into this game by going 4-6 in their last 10 games. They are recently coming off a 107-102 win against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, March 4, 2021 to see their record improve to 15-21 on the season before the All-Star break. This matchup with the Mavericks is the Thunder’s first game since the All-Star break. The Thunder are coming into this season after completing a massive overhaul to their roster that featured multiple trades. Some of the players that they dealt include, Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder and Steven Adams. While trading away key players, they were able to acquire players that include Al Horford, George Hill, Ty Jerome and Justin Jackson on top of the multiple draft picks they now have for future seasons. Despite the massive overhaul, they are still in contention for a playoff spot as they sit 4.5 games from the eighth seed in the western conference with a record of 15-21. The Thunder are in the “rebuilding phase” as they now have tons of draft picks in their possession. The Thunder don’t mind if they make the playoffs this season but also don’t mind landing a top pick in the draft either, as they seek their next “franchise player”.

Coming into this game, the Mavericks won their last meeting with the Thunder 87-78 on March 3rd, 2021 in the Mavericks’ last game before the All-Star break. The Mavericks previously split their regular season series last season 1-1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Mavericks are 20-23 all-time against the Thunder since they moved to Oklahoma from Seattle in 2008, including 8-14 in games played in Oklahoma. Overall, the Mavericks lead the all-time series against the Seattle/Oklahoma franchise 84-77.

The Mavericks started this game by having Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis sit out on the second night of a back-to-back to get them rested and healthy. This will start to become a norm for the Mavericks due to the high amount of back-to-backs in the second half of the season, as they want their superstars healthy and rested come playoff time. As a result, the Mavericks went with Brunson, Richardson, Kleber, Finney-Smith and Cauley-Stein as their starting five in this game. The first points in the game would belong to Theo Maledon, as he nailed a three pointer for the Thunder to get this game underway. The Mavericks wouldn’t get their first points until the 11:05 mark as Jalen Brunson nailed a three pointer to tie the game at 3-3 in the first quarter. The Mavericks would have their first lead in game by having Dorian Finney-Smith drill a three pointer with 10:04 left in the quarter to take a 6-3 lead. The Thunder would reclaim the lead right back by having Al Horford drill a three pointer with 9:26 left in the quarter to give the Thunder an 8-7 lead. The Thunder would build their lead to four points as a result of Luguentz Dort drilling a three pointer to extend their lead to 13-9. Rick Carlisle would call a timeout with 7:17 left in the quarter as a result of the Mavericks having a slow start that saw the Thunder extend their lead to 15-9. Prior to this timeout, the Mavericks were struggling to put the ball in the hoop as they only made three of their first nine attempts taken thus far. The Thunder had a “thunderous” start as they gotten off to a great start by making six of their first ten attempts taken thus far. Coming out of the timeout, the Mavericks turned to Josh Richardson as he was able to convert by drilling a three pointer with 6:53 left in the quarter to stop the Thunder’s 7-0 run and come within 15-12 of the Thunder. The Thunder got their 20th point in the game by having Shai Gilgeous-Alexander make a driving layup to extend their lead to 20-12. The Thunder are able to extend their lead to 11 points as a result of Al Horford drilling a three pointer with 4:20 left in the quarter to lead 25-14 over the Mavericks as their shots continue to fall. This was not the type of start the Mavericks were hoping, even with being shorthanded. In the final minutes of the quarter, the Thunder were able to maintain onto their lead and took an enormous 35-19 lead into the second quarter. The game leading scorer after one quarter of play would belong to Al Horford and Luguentz Dort as they both scored 8 points for the Thunder. The Mavericks were led by Josh Richardson and Jalen Brunson as they both scored 5 points. Despite being shorthanded, the Mavericks allowed a young Thunder team to score 35 points in a quarter as that’s never a good look. The Mavericks were out rebounded by a 21-5 margin in the quarter. The Mavericks hope to find the second quarter with 100% of sunshine as the first quarter had gotten “rained out” as it was filled with “thunderstorms”.

The second quarter would begin by having Jalen Brunson nail a jump shot for the Mavericks to get this quarter underway. The Thunder wouldn’t get their first points until the 10:27 mark as Kenrich Williams nailed a two pointer to extend their lead to 37-24 in the quarter. A technical foul would be called on Moses Brown as the Thunder were caught with a defensive 3-seconds with 10:12 left in the quarter, that resulted in Jalen Brunson taking the technical free-throw but would miss it to keep the score at 37-24. The Thunder had already reached the 40-point mark in game with 8:55 left in the quarter as Isaiah Roby drilled a three pointer to extend their lead to 40-26. This was quickly turning into a blowout if the Mavericks can’t stop the Thunder and generate something on offense. The Mavericks finally reached the 30-point mark in the game with 7:30 left in the quarter as Jalen Brunson nailed a 17-foot pull-up jump shot to come within 42-30 of the Thunder. Rick Carlisle would call a timeout with 6:46 left in the quarter to hopefully get the Mavericks back into this game as they saw themselves trailing 47-30. Prior to this timeout, the Thunder were on a 7-2 run as they were continuing to hold onto their lead. Coming out of the timeout, the Mavericks turned to Josh Richardson as he was able to convert on a jump shot with 6:33 left in the quarter, to come within 47-32 of the Thunder. A quick 7-0 run by the Mavericks would trim their deficit to 10 points as a result of Tim Hardaway Jr drilled a three pointer with 5:08 left in the quarter to come within 47-37 of the Thunder. The Thunder quickly shut the Mavericks threat as they hit the 50-point mark in the game with 4:54 left in the quarter as Al Horford drilled a three pointer to extend their lead to 50-37. The Thunder would call a timeout with 3:16 as they saw the Mavericks gaining momentum as they started to hit their shots but the Thunder would still lead 54-41. Prior to this timeout, the Mavericks got their 41st point in the game by having Josh Richardson nail a pull-up jump shot. Coming out of the timeout, the Thunder turned to Aleksej Pokusevski but couldn’t convert as he would turn the ball over on a traveling call with 3:02 left in the quarter, that kept the score at 54-41. In the final minutes of the quarter, the Thunder were able to keep their lead and took a 62-47 lead into halftime. The game leading scorer after two quarters of play would belong to Al Horford and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as they both scored 13 points for the Thunder. The Mavericks were led by Josh Richardson as he scored 11 points. The Mavericks would have a lot of work to do in the second half as this was all Thunder. The Mavericks were out rebounded in the first half by a 30-16 and were out scored in “Points in the Paint” by 28-16 margin. Unfortunately, the “thunderstorms” would continue for the Mavericks as the Thunder scored 62 in the first half.

Coming out of the half, the Mavericks were able to get on the board first in the third quarter by having Dorian Finney-Smith drill a three pointer to get this third quarter underway. Aleksej Pokusevski was able to score the first points for the Thunder as he nailed two free-throws with 9:59 left in the quarter to keep their lead at 64-52. The Mavericks were able to cut their deficit to 8 points by having Josh Richardson nail a jump shot with 8:49 left in the quarter to come within 64-56 of the Thunder. The Thunder quickly extended their lead back to double digits as Luguentz Dort drilled a three pointer with 8:25 left in the quarter to make it 67-56. Rick Carlisle would call a timeout with 7:25 left in the quarter as he saw the Thunder regain their momentum as they quickly extend their lead to 72-59. Prior to this timeout, the Thunder were on a 8-3 run to keep the Mavericks from making a comeback. Coming out of the timeout, the Mavericks turned to Jalen Brunson but couldn’t convert as an offensive foul would be called on Dwight Powell with 7:14 left in the quarter to keep the score at 73-59. The Thunder made the Mavericks pay for the turnover as Luguentz Dort drilled a three pointer with 7:00 minutes left in the quarter to extend their lead to 76-59. Rick Carlisle would call a timeout with 5:07 left in the quarter as he saw the Thunder completely toy with the Mavericks that resulted in extending their lead to 80-59. Prior to this timeout, the last made basket by the Mavericks came at the 8:01 mark in the quarter as they couldn’t buy a simple basket. Coming out of the timeout, the Mavericks were able to finally end their scoring drought of more than 3:00 minutes as Tim Hardaway Jr drilled a three pointer with 4:56 left in the quarter to come within 80-62 of the Thunder. The Thunder would call a timeout with 3:44 left in the quarter as a result of the Mavericks going on a 8-2 run to try to generate some momentum in the game. Coming out of the timeout, the Thunder turned to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander but couldn’t convert as he missed a three pointer to keep the score at 82-67 with 3:30 left in the quarter. The Mavericks finally reached the 70-point mark in the game with 3:18 left in the quarter as Tim Hardaway Jr drilled a three pointer to come within 82-70 of the Thunder. In the final minutes of the quarter, the Thunder still kept their lead and took a 89-74 lead into the fourth quarter. The game leading scorer after three quarters of play would belong to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as he scored 22 points for the Thunder. The Mavericks were led by Jalen Brunson as he scored 18 points. The Mavericks were able to generate some offense to keep within range of the Thunder but it was still the Thunder’s game to lose.

The fourth quarter would begin by having Jalen Brunson nail two free-throws for the Mavericks to get this quarter underway. The Thunder weren’t able to get their points until the 10:19 mark by having Theo Maledon drill a three pointer to keep their lead at 92-77. There’s was still plenty of time of the clock for the Mavericks to generate some type of comeback if they so choose to do so. The Mavericks continued to shoot three pointers in hopes of shooting their way into a comeback and again those three pointers continued to not fall in the hoop. The Mavericks finally reached the 80-point mark in the game by having Josh Richardson nail 1-of-2 free-throws with 8:30 left in the game to come within 96-80 of the Thunder. Rick Carlisle would call a timeout with 7:42 left in the game as their odds of coming back were drastically falling as Ty Jerome drilled a three pointer for the Thunder to extend their lead to 99-80. The Mavericks would need to generate a lot of stops on defense and go on a tremendous scoring run if they want to come out of this with a win. Coming out of the timeout, the Mavericks turned to Tim Hardaway as he was fouled while trying to slam dunk it and could only nail 1-of-2 free-throws with 7:32 left in the game to come within 99-81 of the Thunder. The Mavericks were able to go on a 8-0 run to cut their deficit to 11 points as Maxi Kleber drilled a three pointer with 6:25 left in the game to come within 99-88 of the Thunder. The Thunder were able to finally reach the 100-point mark in the game with 5:57 left in the game on a Moses Brown slam dunk to extend their lead to 101-88. The Thunder would call a timeout with 5:35 left in the game in hopes of taking this game to the finish line with a win. Coming out of the timeout, the Thunder turned to Aleksej Pokusevski but couldn’t convert as he missed a three pointer with 5:26 left in the game to keep the score at 101-89. The Mavericks finally reached the 90-point mark in the game with 4:38 left in the game as Josh Richardson nailed 1-of-2 free-throws to come within 103-90 of the Thunder. The Mavericks quickly cut their deficit to 9 points with 3:43 left in the game on Jalen Brunson nailing 1-of-2 free-throws to come within 103-94 of the Thunder. There was still slight hope for the Mavericks but they now had to deal with the clock as all of a sudden the time wasn’t in their favor. With 3:33 left in the game, Rick Carlisle decided to use a “coach’s challenge” on a foul call on Josh Richardson. After the review, the officials would overturn the call to an offensive foul on the Thunder and reward a successful challenge to the Mavericks by keeping their timeout. As a result of the successful challenge, Tim Hardaway Jr drilled a three pointer with 3:24 left in the game to cut the deficit to six points. The Mavericks, all of sudden decided to wake up at just the right time in the game by getting some huge clutch baskets. The Thunder saw the Mavericks challenge a call and decided to return the favor as they would challenge the foul on Aleksej Pokusevski by fouling Tim Hardaway Jr on a three point attempt with 1:58 left in the game. This would be a huge call as this could result in momentum for either team. After the review, the officials would stick with the call that would reward Tim Hardaway Jr three free-throws, which he would nail 2-of-3 free-throws with 1:58 left in the game to come within 103-101 of the Thunder. The Thunder quickly extended their lead back to six points as a result of a 4-0 run that forced Rick Carlisle to call a timeout with 1:21 left in the game. The Mavericks need big stops and some clutch buckets if they wanted to steal this game from the Thunder. Coming out of the timeout, the Mavericks turned to Maxi Kleber as he was fouled on a two point attempt with 1:14 left in the game, which he nailed both of them to make it a four point game. The Thunder got a huge bucket from Aleksej Pokusevski as he nailed a clutch three pointer for the Thunder to extend their lead to 110-103 with 53.8 seconds left in the game. The Mavericks would get a huge bucket from Jalen Brunson as he made the basket while being fouled with 34.7 seconds left in the game, which he finished the “three point play” by nailing the free-throw to come within 112-108 of the Thunder. The Thunder ultimately but the Mavericks threat to bed by nailing clutch free-throws to put this game away for good.

This team looked liked the type of team without their superstars, sluggish and rusty as nobody could nail their shots for the Mavericks. This game was filled with “thunderstorms” as the Thunder took advantage of the Mavericks siting their superstars by taking a 62-47 lead at halftime. The Mavericks were simply outworked by the Thunder, as the Thunder wanted this game more than the Mavericks did. The energy and enthusiasm was simply not there for the Mavericks as they clearly missed their superstars in this game. The Mavericks effort would come in the final minute of the game but it would come late as the time ran out.

In the end, it was the Oklahoma City Thunder defeating the Dallas Mavericks 116-108. The Mavericks record would drop to 19-17 on the season that resulted in snapping their four game winning streak. Without their superstars, Josh Richardson finished the game with 27 points and 6 assists in the loss. The Thunder were led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as he finished with 32 points and 6 assists. Too many missed free throws and a rough first quarter ultimately cost the Mavericks a win. The Mavericks missed 10 free-throws in what you could argue was the deciding factor in this one.

The Mavericks will continue to stay on the road and head to Denver, where they will play the Denver Nuggets on Saturday.

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