Mavs Run Past Thunder
The Thunder have played with starters out before and played well but three starters on the bench? A superstar and their two best defenders? That was just too much.
The Thunder decided to rest point guard Russell Westbrook, part of his recovery plan from that third knee surgery. Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins are also out with injuries.
The Dallas Mavericks took full advantage running past the depleted Thunder 109-86.
"This wasn't one of our better games, we didn't come out with the energy it takes, we've gotta play better defense," said Thunder head coach Scott Brooks after the game.
No question the defense was terrible and it got worse as the game went on. The Mavs shot 50 percent in the first quarter, 52.2 percent in the second and 61.1 in the third before falling back to 50 percent in the fourth.
Dallas scored 29 points in the first quarter, 30 in the second, 32 in the third and then 18 in the fourth when the down the bench guys were in.
As bad as the defense was the offense wasn't nay great shakes either. The Thunder scored 23 points in the first quarter, 25 in the second, 22 in the third and 16 in the fourth while shooting 36.7 percent for the game. The Thunder couldn't even hit free throws shooting just 70.4 percent and missing eight of 27.
Kevin Durant did extend his streak of 25 point games. He had 30 points, extending his streak to 31 straight games, that's the second longest in the NBA in the last 50 years.
Serge Ibaka, the only other regular starter playing, had 19 points and six rebounds.
Without Westbrook the Thunder offense seemed to be running in mud, or just not running at all. They only scored nine points in transition on 3-for-10 shooting.
And yes the Thunder have generally played well without Westbrook this season (26-9 with Russ on the bench) but in those games they weren't also playing without two other starters.
I asked Coach Brooks if maybe it's time to re-think that plan of having Westbrook sit out some of these upcoming back-to-backs, especially with Thabo and Perk expected to miss at least the rest of the month.
"That temptation doesn't even cross our minds," he answered. "We have a plan and we're gonna stick with it. Russell in, Russell out wasn't a factor, they just had their with us."
Maybe not, but Russell, Thabo and Perk all out did seem to have an impact. And that impact could end up being considerable since Westbrook could miss another five games in the last 16 the Thunder play in the regular season.