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Shocking Thunder loss analysis: overworked Durant's misfires lead to game 2 defeat by Mavericks

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11 assists to 15 turnovers for the Thunder? What a recipe for disaster....

W. Bennett Berry

In a disappointing and surprising result, the Oklahoma City Thunder gave up a first round playoff game at home, losing to the Mavericks, 84-85. Kevin Durant shot a putrid 7 of 33 from the field. It was more field goal attempts than KD had taken all year, and KD looked awful. Several missed turnarounds over smaller players, and missed open shots galore. Russell Westbrook wasn't much better, shooting 8 of 22 enroute to 19 points. The most discouraging part of that is Westbrook's 4 of 10 shooting in the paint. Salah Mejri definitely had an effect on that.

In terms of other guys, Serge Ibaka was a reliable 4-7. But Ibaka only took one shot in the third quarter, and one shot in the fourth quarter. We've seen this kind of fading late during the season before, but that doesn't make it any less disappointing. However, Ibaka did a decent job in one on ones against Nowitzki. Steven Adams chipped in 9 points on 4 of 6 shooting, with all shots next to the rim. Even Dion Waiters had some success, scoring 8 points on 3 of 8 shooting. In fact, Waiters scored on two crucial fourth quarter possessions. Waiters wasn't good overall, but a terrific wingman in the clutch.

On the other end, Dirk did his usual thing. Collison was successful at stifling Nowitzki during a stint in the second quarter, and Ibaka was on and off against Nowitzki all game. Overall, Dirk went 7 of 19 and mainly worked as a shot creator. The real surprise was Raymond Felton, whom scored 21 points on 8 of 16 shooting. That includes a crucial layup over Steven Adams in the final 30 seconds of the game.

Also, Coach Donovan refused to match up with the Maverick two point guard lineup during the first quarter. You see, Russell Westbrook was guarding Raymond Felton, and Andre Roberson was guarding Deron Williams. Deron Williams hit three threes in the first quarter. Roberson was rubbed out by a Pachulia screen and a Powell screen. The other three came from Williams in transition, because Roberson was committed to a offensive rebound. Even Raymond Felton got a three, screening out Westbrook.

Also Also, Salah Mejri is really tall and scored 12 points at the rim. Four of them were on offensive rebounds.

Box ScoreShot Chart/Play-by-PlayPopcorn MachineCondensed HighlightsKevin Durant 21 Pts HighlightsDirk Nowitzki 17 Pts HighlightsRaymond Felton 21 Pts HighlightsSalah Mejri 12 Pts HighlightsKD, Westbrook, Dion Postgame

How did the Thunder lose this game?

With 6:16 to go in the fourth quarter, Russell Westbrook got a mid-range shot around a Kanter screen. That extended the Thunder's lead to 7, and that's about as good as it got from that point on.

The next three offensive possessions were a Westbrook mid-range miss (contested by Mejri), a KD stepback three miss, and KD missing a open shot off a Adams off-ball screen. On the defensive end, Nowitzki got past a double team to set up a Mejri dunk, Felton hit a three with Westbrook screened out, and Felton hit a mid-range shot he was left alone for. That's the anatomy of a 7-0 Dallas run, which put them up 1 with 4:18 to go.

From that point on, the game was tight. Westbrook and Waiters got good looks at three, but both missed. Felton looked for a drive, but had his pass stolen by Ibaka. The Thunder gave the ball to KD down low, but Salah Mejri was called for a three second violation. KD hit the technical free throw, and OKC got the ball back. The Westbrook-Adams pick and roll was successful, with Adams tapping it in to give OKC a two point lead, 3:12 to go.

Raymond Felton attempted to score at the rim around a screen. Blocked by Adams. Dirk was able to get a double-team on the inbounds, but Ibaka recovered to deny Salah Mejri at the rim. Dirk got the offensive rebound, but airballed a desperate attempt. OKC couldn't capitalize. Adams got caught behind Mejri in the pick and roll. The ball was kicked to Durant, who dribbled the ball off his foot. Wes Matthews grabbed the ball, and dished it to Devin Harris for the transition basket. Tie game, 2:14 to go.

On the ensuing possession, Westbrook got a screen from KD. Felton went through the screen with ease, and physically stopped Westbrook's drive to the rim. Westbrook attempted to draw a foul, but ended up throwing the ball out of bounds for a turnover. Dallas couldn't respond. KD pressured Harris around a screen, leading to an open Matthews three that bricked. Matthews was clearly playing through injury issues, and shot 0-7 from three on the night.

Anyway, it's tie game, 1:15 to go, OKC ball. KD screens Westbrook, and gets a mismatch with Raymond Felton. KD goes to the turnaround, and it's no good. On the other end, Ibaka sagged a bit on Nowitzki, but Nowitzki couldn't hit the three. Tie game, 0:56 to go.

Out of a timeout, Westbrook got a wide open three off of a weak side Ibaka screen. No good. Then, Raymond Felton made the play of his life. Felton faked out Westbrook around a Mejri screen, beat Westbrook to the basket, and scored over Steven Adams at the rim.

Facing a 2 point deficit and 28 seconds on the clock, OKC needed to score fast. KD dribbled the ball off his foot, but luckily the ball hit Mejri's leg as well. OKC ball again, 26 seconds left.

KD cuts across the basket, and gets a mean screen from Steven Adams. Wes Matthews flops to the ground, leaving KD wide open for a mid-range shot. The shot hit back iron. Steven Adams recovered the ball, and kicked it to KD for three. The ball hit front iron.

Wes Matthews faught for the rebound, and ran to the other end for a layup. Mavs up 4, 14.4 seconds to go.

It seemed like game over, but there was a sign of life. Westbrook used an Adams screen. Right afterwards, KD ran across Adams for a reverse screen without the ball. KD caught it at the three point line, and hit a straight on three. Thunder down 1, 9.5 seconds to go.

Ball inbounded to Felton. Felton was fouled, 7.5 seconds to go. On the next inbound, the Mavs looked for Dirk. But KD shut him down. So the ball went to Felton, who was immediately overrun by Westbrook. Felton at the line, 7.1 seconds to go, Mavs up 1.

Somehow, Felton missed the first shot way to the right.

Then....the game finished like this:

Felton missed the second free throw. KD got the rebound. Dish to Westbrook. Westbrook crosses over to avoid Justin Anderson. At the rim, Westbrook is met by Nowitzki. To avoid Nowitzki, Westbrook dishes to KD. KD goes up deterred by Justin Anderson.

Somehow, Russell Westbrook outjumped Wesley Matthews (from a dead stop) to tip the rebound back up onto the rim. No dice.

Adams, having just arrived on the scene, grabs the missed shot with both hands and immediately puts it back in. The ref counts the shot good. OKC celebrates. The FOX Sports Oklahoma score bug shows Thunder 86, Mavericks 85.

But video replay shows that Adams held onto the ball just a fraction of a second too long. One or two more tenths of a second, and it would have been OKC's victory. But it just wasn't meant to be today. And after a Game 1 that was the biggest win in franchise history, the Thunder were shocked with a narrow loss in Game 2.

Why did the Thunder lose this game?

Kevin Durant shot 7 of 33 from the floor, and played 44 minutes. Durant is the bedrock of this team, and it's really hard for the Thunder to survive when he's shooting so poorly. It's not as if Durant was facing a fearsome defender. Really, it was just KD bricking a bunch of forced mid-range turnarounds. There wasn't enough KD around off-ball screens. I also saw KD trying to take it to the basket a lot, but the Mavs would keep collapsing on the paint. And OKC really didn't have the shooters to make them pay. Also KD had only 2 assists and 7 turnovers. I attribute that to the Mavs pressuring KD around screens.

Now, you might point out that the Warriors beat the Rockets tonight without Stephen Curry. Well, for one, Curry wasn't out there performing badly like Durant was. For two, Klay Thompson scored 34 points in Curry's absence. Russell Westbrook only got 19 points tonight. Westbrook was 1 of 5 beyond the arc, which is forgivable. Personally, I believe Westbrook's poor paint averages were partially caused by the fact that Kanter only played with him for a total of 5 minutes tonight. Westbrook needs Kanter, Kanter needs Westbrook, and Kanter would destroy Pachulia. Donovan should be more proactive about matching up.

Also, the Thunder had 11 assists to 15 turnovers. That's absurd. OKC needs to spread the ball more, especially down the stretch. 33 shots is simply too much for KD to handle night to night.

Slammin' Notes

  • Justin Anderson was really turned up tonight. Constantly shouting and slamming the floor.
  • Nick Collison's defense was just superb. Love the tenacity with which he attacked Dirk.
  • Enes Kanter only had 6 points tonight. Mejri totally shut him down, and he just couldn't get any space down low. Also, Kanter was 0-2 outside the paint. Defensively, Kanter stopped a couple of drives to the rim. But Devin Harris scored a couple of baskets over Kanter at the rim.
  • Randy Foye missed a three, but otherwise didn't really make much of an impact in 10 minutes.
  • Anthony Morrow got 11 minutes, and hit a three in the third quarter. It was good to see Morrow out there, because the Mavs can't really make Morrow pay on defense with a bigger guard. Three attempts from three is just about what Morrow should be getting, and props to Morrow for scoring once in transition.
  • Kyle Singler took a really awful floater during his 5 minutes of action.
  • That late 3 preserved KD's 20 points or more per game streak. Hilarious!
  • Andre Roberson scored in transition from a steal he made, and made another steal that led to a score. Really like those plays, though I wish he could have been more of a part of the actual offense.

Marina's Awards

Thunder Wonder: Steven Adams, continually reliable in his role.

Thunder Down Under: Serge Ibaka, please get this man the ball.

Thunder Blunder: Enes Kanter, just use finesse around Mejri please.

Thunder Plunderer: Raymond Felton, go over screens on this guy.

Next Game: At the Dallas Mavericks, Thursday, April 21st, 6 PM Central Daylight Time.

What did you think of tonight's game? Drop a comment and let us know!