¡Aye dios mio!
I haven't seen a fourth quarter collapse like that since the Carlesimo days. The Thunder, after leading most of the game, blew a 6 point lead with 7 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, and fell behind by as many as 14 before making a short, meaningless comeback.
Why did the thunder fall so hard and fast? Well, reason number one had to be the mismatches the Mavericks were managing to get on offense. I saw Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha on Dirk Nowitzki at times, allowing him to nail his turnaround jumper with ease. Secondly, the Mavericks got whatever they wanted in the paint, be it through a backdoor cut or a big man ready to make a easy layup. On the offensive end, the Thunder tried to exploit the weak defense on Sefolosha, but he couldn't come through in the clutch. Then, they tried relying on their more experienced players, but they just missed come crucial shots. If I was Al Eschbach, I'd say that "players have to make plays".
But I'm not Al, so I have a bit different opinion. Admittedly, our players did let us down tonight, but the coaches are equally at fault. Why was Dirk not double teamed? Why were post players floating out to the perimeter in anticipation of an imaginary Tyson Chandler jumper? Why didn't we put two big men out there after the continued penetration? There's lots of questions to be answered.
Below: Handing It To the Mavericks, The Rest of the Game, Awards!
At the end of the day though, you have to hand it to the Mavericks. They were down throughout the game, but refused to go away and knew how to put away a better team on the second night of a back-to-back. I was wondering why they wasted time with Brian Cardinal in the lineup, but when it keeps your main guys fresh for the end, I suppose it's worth it.
How did the rest of the game go? Well, it wasn't extremely eventful. The game was on a relatively even keel throughout the first half, and the Thunder were constantly threatening to pull away in the third, but just couldn't maintain any sort of big lead without the Mavericks quickly cutting back into it with a quick offensive spurt. Eventually, it came to the fourth, where the Thunder were still struggling to maintain their slowly shrinking lead. And then, there was a big collapse.
On to the Awards....
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant, 32 Points, 11 Rebounds, 5 Assists. Though he missed some critical shots in the fourth, he was still easily the best Thunder Performer tonight. Neither Westbrook nor Green truly stepped up to be a second option.
Thunder Down Under: It would be Ibaka, but he missed too many free throws and allowed too much scoring on the inside. Instead, I'll give it to Russell Westbrook, who had 13 Points and 10 Assists. He didn't score well, but he kept the team flowing, and that should be his #1 priority.
Thunder Blunder: Jeff Green, who had 17 Points but did a horrendous job guarding Dirk. His +/- Ratio of -16 says it all.
Thunder Plunderer: Dirk Nowitzki, 34 Points, 4 Rebounds, 4 Assists. 18 Points in the fourth quarter. Need I say more?
Next Game: At the Indiana Pacers, Friday, November 26th, 8 PM Central Standard Time.