By Randy Renner
Second nights of back-to-backs on the road are usually never good and they're especially never good when that game gets into overtime.
That's just one of the reasons the Thunder dramatic win in Toronto the other night was so impressive. Last night in Dallas the basketball gods got even.
The Thunder couldn't get a rebound in the closing seconds of regulation, moments after Kevin Durant splashed what could have been a game winning 3-pointer.
At the other end of the floor Dirk Nowitzki missed a three that would have tied the game but the Thunder lost out on the battle of boards to Mavs forward Brandon Wright who quickly passed to point guard Jose Calderon who just as quickly fired away from beyond the arc, this time the ball fell in and the Thunder hopes for a win in Big D started circling the drain.
"I thought on a couple of plays down the stretch we could have done a better job securing the rebound and contesting their shots," said Thunder head coach Scott Brooks.
Contesting shots has been an off and on problem for the Thunder especially recently and especially from beyond the arc.
You can probably attribute a good portion of that to the absence of Thabo Sefolosha, the Thunder's best perimeter defender. Not having Kendrick Perkins, the Thunder's best post defender, doesn't help either.
Last night the Mavericks knocked down 15 threes, shooting almost 40 percent from out there. The Thunder is now giving up 8.5 made threes a game, one of the highest numbers in the NBA and in their last six losses they've given up 13.3 makes from deep.
The Thunder also showed signs last night of some fatigue setting in on the second night of a back-to-back. The team shot 57 percent in the first half and 50 percent in the second half and then just 23 percent (3-for-13) in the overtime period.
Dallas shot 48.8 percent in both the first and second halves and then 66.6 percent in the overtime.
So in those final five minutes the Thunder could neither hit their shots nor prevent the Mavs from hitting theirs.
Inconsistency with the lineup hurts there too, whether it's the absence of Perk and Thabo or the minutes restrictions on Russell Westbrook which are also preventing him from playing in both games of back-to-back sets.
Perkins and Sefolosha should be back soon and then there will be more adjustment as they're worked back into the rotation.
How soon Westbrook's minutes restrictions are eased is anybody's guess, maybe for the playoffs when rest days are built into the schedule, but maybe not.
With last night's loss to Dallas the Thunder lose more ground to the streaking San Antonio Spurs. OKC is now 2.5 games back of first place in the Western Conference and just two games up on the Los Angeles Clippers for second place.
The Thunder are home now for a full week and begin a three game homestand on Friday with Sacramento and then Utah on Sunday afternoon. They will then have three days to get ready for another back-to-back, this one more critical than others because it starts with the Spurs in here next Thursday night and finishes in Houston against the Rockets who are currently in fourth place in the West, just 3.5 games behind the Thunder.
Ideally, stretch runs into the playoffs solidify your position and fine tune your team's chemistry and consistency.
Unfortunately for the Thunder injuries an recoveries are playing hell with the team's chances to accomplish any of that.