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Thunder lose 116-84 to Mavericks

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Daigneault is aware of the inconsistencies of the NBA regular season.

Ultimately for Oklahoma City’s head coach, the Thunder’s (8-18) offensive woes showcased in their 116-84 loss to the Dallas Mavericks (13-13) was just another example of that.

The Thunder were outscored 23-13 by the Mavericks in the fourth quarter. This is the second game in a row where Oklahoma City failed to eclipse 20 points in a single quarter.

On Sunday, that was mainly in part to the Thunder’s 37.5 shooting percentage in the game, including a 5-for-19 total in the fourth quarter alone.

“I think when we think of player development, we think of the younger players that don’t have experiences like Tre Mann or Jeremiah Robinson Earl, but player development applies to everybody and especially these guys that are like growing pros,” Daigneault said on his team’s struggles. “They’re still developing… But, for all these guys, nothing is linear, and all (them) are going to have dips in their developmental track.”

Oklahoma City was still in range to win the game early in the fourth quarter.

However, the Mavericks’ 50 points in the paint compared to OKC’s 20 proved to be the difference in the game.

The Thunder largely lacked the size to compete with Dallas’ forwards Kristaps Porzingis, Maxi Kleber, and former Thunder center Moses Brown.

Combined, they scored 44 points on 17-of-35 attempted shots against Oklahoma City.

“They have bigs that are long and big inside, but they also have great shooters on the perimeter,” Jeremiah Robinson-Earl said. “So, it’s tough to just give away one of them because we play defense together. They’re just a great team being able to shoot threes and be able to be big inside, so it’s tough to guard, but we have to go out there and compete at a high level.”

Oklahoma City’s star point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander struggled to find his shot for the second game in a row.

While the Thunder’s leading scorer with 18 points in the game, the third-year point guard was 6-of-15 from the field and 1-for-5 from three. After losing shooting guard Lu Dort, who’s currently on a streak of 40 consecutive games with a made three-pointer, left ankle sprain before halftime, Gilgeous-Alexander was the only consistent scoring option remaining in the third and fourth quarters.

Dort is shooting 33% from three on a career-high 7.6 attempts this season. He ended the game with 10 points on 3-of-8 shooting – 2-for-5 from three – and two rebounds. Oklahoma City’s medical staff taped up his left ankle at halftime and ruled him out for the rest of the game. As of now, his status remains up in the air for the Thunder’s upcoming games.

For his teammates, though, his absence was felt heavily in the second half of tonight’s game.

“Yeah, Lu is for sure a big part of our team,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “But, with that being said, I still think we had enough to get it done. Just didn’t pull it out to get the win.”

As the Thunder slide into another two-game losing streak, they pivot to their next matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. CT in Oklahoma City. For Daigneault, he’s just hoping to get his team back on track.

“We want to be a team that’s stubborn about getting in there, stubborn about establishing that is kind of our ground game (in the paint) and stubborn about trying to find the best shots on every possession.

And you know, we had some possessions where we got decent looks tonight. Some fell, some did.”