Thunder escape with victory over Mavericks
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma City Thunder’s top trio struggled to make shots all night.
With one final flurry, they were still able to keep rolling at home.
Russell Westbrook scored 24 points, Kevin Durant added 22 and the Thunder scored the final eight points to escape with a 95-91 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night and run their home winning streak to 13 games.
Durant, Westbrook and top reserve James Harden went a combined 16 for 49 from the field as Oklahoma City managed to pull one out without needing to make a basket in the final 2 minutes.
“The thing is with us, we’ve just got to continue to just keep playing hard no matter if we’re making shots or not, and playing together on both ends,” said Durant, who missed 12 of his 18 shots.
“It was a sloppy game but I’m glad we came out on top.”
Westbrook answered Dirk Nowitzki’s fourth 3-pointer of the final period by hitting one of his own from the right wing to get Oklahoma City within 91-90 with 2:25 remaining, and Dallas didn’t score again.
Serge Ibaka hit two free throws with 46 seconds left to give Oklahoma City the lead, and Jason Terry missed two shots down the stretch for the Mavericks.
Afterward, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle protested the call that allowed Ibaka to attempt the go-ahead free throws after Ian Mahinmi swatted his shot away.
“I’m in disbelief that there was a foul called on Mahinmi. I just watched the play five times. It’s a block. That’s it. That’s an enormous play,” Carlisle said in opening his postgame comments.
“Then Nowitzki gets hit on the arm at the other end and there’s no call. I’m at a loss, so I apologize for that.”
The Mavericks still had a shot to go back ahead and then another attempt at the tie, but Terry missed both times.
“We haven’t really been sharp on our execution at the end of ball games and that’s hurt us,” said Terry, who scored nine of his 18 points in the fourth quarter. “Not a big concern because I know the type of team we are. We thrive in those situations.
“We’ve got to just keep clawing it out. Eventually it will swing our way and we’ll pull these games out, but it’s been a thorn in our side the entire season.”
Nowitzki finished with 27 points but didn’t touch the ball on a key possession when Dallas was down by two with 13 seconds left.
Instead, Terry and Jason Kidd passed the ball back and forth with Kidd getting stuck under the basket before tossing it right back. Terry missed on a short jumper along the right baseline that would have tied it, and Westbrook hit two free throws to ice it after grabbing the rebound.
Terry said “that was definitely not the plan” and guessed that Kidd must have seen something in the defense that he didn’t.
“I still ended up getting a pretty decent shot, I thought, under duress. But again, I ask for the ball in that situation and if I get another opportunity, I’m betting on myself to win,” Terry said.
Carlisle said Kidd was wide open under the basket but Terry didn’t see him in time.
“It just was a really unusual play but it never should have come to that,” Carlisle said.
Harden had 16 points on 4-for-11 shooting and Kendrick Perkins grabbed a season-high 14 rebounds for West-leading Oklahoma City. Westbrook missed 14 of his 20 shot attempts.
“It happens like that some nights. We’ve just got to stay consistent with what we do defensively and everything will play out,” Westbrook said.
The Thunder were held to their second-worst shooting performance of the season, at 38.2 percent.
“We gutted this one out, man,” Durant said. “They did a great job of throwing different defenses at us. … They mixed it up on us. It was tough to kind of get a rhythm for a few of us.”
Oklahoma City made up for it with a hefty free-throw advantage, making 29 of 33 while Dallas got to the line only 10 times and made all of them. On that note, Carlisle said : “I don’t want to be accusatory to the officials. I thought our guys were aggressive enough to have deserved a few more chances.”
Mahinmi added 13 points, all in the first half, after being pressed into action when starting center Brendan Haywood was hurt just seconds into the game.
Already without reserve center Brandan Wright because of a concussion, the Mavericks lost Haywood on the opening possession of the game. Haywood won the tip-off, then got the ball inside before missing a shot and landing with his left foot on top of Perkins’ left foot. He hobbled up the court to foul Durant and then headed to locker room and did not return.
Carlisle had no timetable on when Haywood would be able to return.
Mahinmi had seven points, including a three-point play, during a 15-5 run that put Dallas up 52-42 with 1:20 to go before halftime.
The Thunder scored the final three points of the first half and then were able to reverse a seven-point halftime deficit during the third quarter. Oklahoma City scored the first seven points after halftime to tie it at 52 on Westbrook’s jumper from the right elbow with 9:24 left, then pulled ahead 68-61 with another string of seven consecutive points late in the third.
Nowitzki scored all 12 of his fourth-quarter points by making all four of his 3-point attempts but he never got a chance when it counted the most.
Dallas suffered another tough loss after dropping its previous visit to Oklahoma City 104-102 loss when Durant hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“There’s a lot of scrambles at the end of the games. That’s why it’s important to play from in front when you can. … There’s no excuse,” Carlisle said.
“We didn’t make the plays and I’m very disappointed at the way the whole thing went with the other stuff.”
NOTES: Sean Williams played 3 minutes in the fourth quarter and was twice called for goaltending after being called up from the NBA Development League on Sunday to provide depth at center after Wright’s concussion. “He’ll be with us until Brandan gets back, and we don’t know how long that’s going to be. He’s done a good job in the D-League with the Frisco team and we feel like it’s important to have an extra body in case we need somebody,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. … Carlisle didn’t want his team slowing the pace to combat Oklahoma City’s athleticism. “One of the characteristics of our team last year when we won it was we got it up the floor quick and sometimes we didn’t get a shot until the last 5 seconds but the ball kept moving and we just kept playing. This year, we’re working toward being better at doing that.” … The Thunder moved to 7-1 this season following a loss.