What else can you say? After playing such a competitive game and watching Dirk Nowitzki go down, it's pretty disheartening to see our team fall flat on it's face in the fourth quarter. Again.
I suppose we shouldn't be completely surprised. The average age of our starting lineup is 24.2 years old, and it gets younger with Ibaka and Harden out on the floor. Young teams are prone to losing control of games in the fourth quarter, as we saw time and time again in our first season.
But here, is there really an excuse? The play calling in the fourth quarter was terrible. Kevin Durant failed isolation plays over and over again. Wide-open players were passed up in favor of getting more contested shots for our star players. Jeff Green repeatedly sat on the three point line and didn't take a shot. The Mavericks interior was incredibly hard to score against, yet we couldn't use any of the mismatches we were supposed to get by playing a small lineup (Durant, Green, Sefolosha, Harden, Westbrook).
Below: Nowitzki's Injury, A Defensive Mess, Awards!
What really rubs the salt in the wound, though, is Nowitzki's injury. It really provided a window of opportunity for the Thunder. If the guy who scores around 25% of his team's points is out for the game, don't you think we'd have a shot at winning? We did against Denver with Anthony out, but here the Mavericks held strong. And with two home losses against them by 10 points or more, I just don't see us beating them on the road or in the playoffs. On a side note, Nowitzki's injury looked really wimpy. He landed on his foot a bit wrong and moved something out of kink after flopping a bit on a jumper. Eh, sometimes things hurt a lot more than they look like they do.
Defensively, we were also a mess. I don't know how many back-door cuts I saw, but it was enough so that I don't want to see another unless it's Jeff Green getting a free slam. Aside from that came the wide-open threes and jumpers that seemed to go down over and over and over again. It's like Rick Carlisle left the Mavericks with two or three plays to run while he was gone. And the Mavericks ran them perfectly, while the Thunder were clueless and helpless to stop them.
Russell Westbrook went out with a right hand injury late in the fourth, after the game's outcome had already been decided. He looked to be in extreme pain, and his constant struggling almost looked like a dance as he walked to the exit.
All in all, I think the Thunder and I just want a mulligan after this one. We see the Mavericks again in a week, and I'd like to have three more wins on the board before then.
On to the awards....
Thunder Wonder: James Harden, 18 Points, 4 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 2 Steals.
Thunder Down Under: Nenad Krstic, 6 Points, 3 Rebounds, 2 Blocks. A bit controversial here, but....he did his job, and didn't play outside his limits.
Thunder Blunder: Kevin Durant, for not kicking the ball when he needed to. This could equally go to Westbrook or Ibaka, though.
Thunder Plunderer: The Matrix of Shawn Marion, with 20 Points, 9 Rebounds, and 1 Block. Please! No more backdoor cuts!
Next Game: Versus the New Jersey Nets, Wednesday, December 29th, 7 PM Central Standard Time.