Shorthanded Thunder Blister Mavericks
By Randy Renner
After trading away four players earlier in the day, including one of their lockerroom leaders and the their backup point guard, the Oklahoma City Thunder with just 10 players in uniform jumped on the Dallas Mavericks early and cruised to a 104-89 win Friday night.
The Thunder got another dominating double-double from Russell Westbrook who scored 34 points while handing out 10 assists. They also got an even more dominant double-double from Serge Ibaka who stayed around the basket, not shooting any threes, and grabbed a career-high 22 rebounds while scoring 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting.
"Serge was just phenomenal on the boards," raved head coach Scott Brooks. "He was attacking at both ends of the floor and he did a lot of good things."
Kevin Durant agreed, marveling at what his teammate accomplished.
“He was huge,” KD said. “I didn’t even know he was rebounding that well until I looked up and he had 16 at the end of the third. He was everywhere.”
Durant started hot but then struggled finishing with 12 points on just 4-for-13 shooting he was also limping at times late in the game and was taken out with about 2 and a half minutes to play.
Durant's right foot has been painful and sore lately and the pain flared up again against Dallas. Thunder GM Sam Presti, who spoke to reporters about trade day activities, said of Durant, "there's soreness and we have to continue to watch that. He's not at risk," Presti assured, "but he is sore."
Anthony Morrow had one of his best nights in a while with 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting, Andre Roberson scored just four points but he grabbed 12 rebounds and Nick Collison pulled down nine. The Thunder outrebounded Dallas 62-39 and had a whopping 21 offensive boards.
Collison also appreciated Ibaka's work on the night, "He was active,” Collison said. “Sticking around the basket and getting a lot of offensive rebounds. We need him to play like that. It was great to see.”
“Normally like my first two years, I used to play off Nick,” Ibaka said. “Then he went to the second unit. So when I play off Nick I like it, because I can roll and pop because he can space it and shoot long 2s. It’s kinda like playing the four and five at the same time.”
Ibaka stuck close to the basket where seven of the 22 rebounds he scooped up came off the offensive glass. Ibaka did not venture out beyond the 3-point line. It was the first time since December and just the second time this season that Ibaka did not attempt a three.
About the only thing that didn't go the Thunder's way was taking care of the basketball. OKC turned it over 25 times leading to 29 Mavs points.
The defense made up for a lot of that carelessness, allowing Dallas to shoot just 36.3 percent. When the Mavs did manage to rebound one of their many missed shots they seldom did anything with it going just 4-for-15 (26.7 percent) on second chance opportunities.
All in all it was a very impressive performance coming on a day when teammates were lost in trades and normal rotations and substitution patterns went out the window.
Oklahoma City has now won six of the last seven games and are tied with the Phoenix Suns for that all important eighth place in the Western Conference. The new players will be in OKC on Friday for physicals and could be on the floor by Saturday's game in Charlotte and if not then, then certainly by Sunday's home game with Denver.