The final game of the 2018 season came fast as we’re just one day away from 2019. Dallas closed out their final home game of 2018 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who they beat last month, though without Russell Westbrook. Tonight, was no different in result, as the Mavericks pulled out the victory 105-103 in a down to the wire nail biter.
3rd quarter vs 4th quarter
The Mavs have had a bit of a strained relationship with third quarters this season as leads have seemed to slip away or opponents have tended to break out into a considerable lead. Though, that was not the case tonight as Dallas outscored OKC 27-14 in the third period, led by Luka Doncic, and taking an 11-point lead into the final frame.
And yet, the game didn’t end there as OKC returned the aray of punches thrown by Dallas in the third, getting off to a hot start and taking a five-point lead with under three minutes to go, before the Mavs persevered and clinched the win.
Dallas has found themselves in several close game situations so far this season in which they couldn’t close out their opponent and yet tonight, the poise shown by this group got the job done. On top of being allergic to winning on the road, the Mavs need to continue finishing strong down the stretch as a collective group to be considered a playoff team.
Dennis’ defense has been a question of the past but he is gradually putting that criticism to rest. Tonight, and in the past few games he’s been active, his defensive effort has been phenomenal.
Not by himself, but Dennis helped hold Russell Westbrook to just 4/22 shooting. With under a minute to play, Dennis got switched onto Paul George and brought out the clamps on the five time All-Star and four time All-NBA selection, forcing him into a tough, contested mid-range jumper, leading to a trip to the free throw line for DeAndre Jordan.
— MavsHighlights (@MavsHighlights) December 31, 2018
”Listen, this is what being a big time player is all about,” Carlisle said of Dennis guarding Paul George on a crucial play down the stretch. “You make the go-ahead basket at one end and guard the best player at the other end.”
“He’s come a long way but we always knew the ability was there, the competitiveness was there; it was just a matter of experience and tasting winning and tasting a lot of losing.”
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers
No matter how well a team may play in other aspects of the game, giving the opposing team extra opportunities to score, lessens your chances to win substantially. Tonight, the Mavericks fell victim to that as they turned the ball over 23 times.
Yes, Dallas pulled out a tough win tonight, but it’s rare that you’ll win a game, especially against a team of the Thunder’s caliber, when turning the ball over 23 times.
Wes Matthews was missed
Wes missed his second straight game with right foot soreness and it was evident that Dallas missed him on the floor, especially when it comes to defending Paul George. In the Dallas victory against OKC in November, PG was held to just 8/21 shooting, partly credited to Matthews’ defensive effort.
Tonight, George got it going early, with 17 first half points and finished with 36 points on 12/24 shooting. With Westbrook struggling, George was the go-to man down the stretch as he seemed to sink shot after shot fighting to keep OKC on top.
It’s unclear if Wes will be available tomorrow night for the rematch in OKC but you aren’t going to win many games when Paul George gets hot like this. Consider the Mavs lucky.
Dallas will play the Thunder again tomorrow in Oklahoma City to close out 2018.
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