With each passing game, the Dallas Mavericks are showing that even if “losing is in their best interest,” they’re not interested in it very much right now.
Just days removed after taking down the playoff-contending Indiana Pacers, Dallas nearly toppled another postseason-bound team on Wednesday night against Oklahoma City but fell, 111-110, in overtime after Dwight Powell forced the extra period with a buzzer-beating put-back.
Powell had missed two free throws just minutes earlier that would’ve tied the game for the Mavericks.
In the extra period, Westbrook gave the Thunder a 111-110 lead after an and-1, but Dallas gave it right back after an offensive foul on Harrison Barnes. On the ensuing possession, Westbrook also committed a charge, setting up Dallas once again for the final game-winning opportunity.
Dennis Smith Jr.’s final shot sailed high and the Thunder escaped with the win.
Fellow lottery-bound teams Atlanta and Phoenix both pulled off victory while the Suns win came over the free-falling Grizzlies. With the loss, Dallas slipped to the league’s fifth-worst spot from the sixth.
It’s clear, at least lately, that Dallas is going to fight and claw each and every game, whether it’s with youthful lineups or mixed with veterans.
The Mavericks used a 33-23 burst in the third quarter to take control of a game that got away from them in the first half.
Coming into the contest, Russell Westbrook had averaged 31 points on 49 percent shooting, including 41 percent from behind the arc, in the previous three games against Dallas.
He had 20 points at halftime on 8-of-14 shooting as the Thunder led, 54-43. No Mavericks had a positive net rating after two quarters with just Dirk Nowitzki and J.J. Barea posting an even rating.
Dallas started the game hot with three straight triples including one from Nowitzki and two from Harrison Barnes before Oklahoma City went to work.
Smith finished with 17 points on 6-of-18 shooting as he battled through a slow start. His first points didn’t come until 4:28 in the second quarter when he splashed home a wide-open three.
Dwight Powell had another superb night, finishing with 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting. Coming into the contest, Powell had been averaging nearly 11 points per 25 minutes in the last 15 games on 59.6% shooting (stats from nba.com).
Nerlens Noel saw his first playing time of 2018 in the loss. He had several key deflections on defense including an authoritative swat of a Westbrook dunk attempt in the third quarter after Dallas had rallied to tie the game at 66-66.
He finished with four points to go with three rebounds in 16 minutes.
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