By Will Martin
Right before the start of the currently running eight game homestand I remember telling myself that going 6-2 during this homestand would be a good thing for the Dallas Mavericks. This thought ran through my head as these eyes witnessed an absolute throttling of the Oklahoma City Thunder back on March 16th. Granted, no Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, or Thabo Sefolosha to help. Dallas ended an 11 game skid to the Thunder on that night with a 109-86 victory.
Mavericks fans prefer to think back to that time frame leading up to 2010-2011 when Oklahoma City didn’t know how to close out a double digit lead.
Dallas (42-29) came into the second half of their eight game homestand hurting after a second home overtime defeat to the Brooklyn Nets, 107-104, on the 23rd by a total of four points. Winning out the rest of the way is the only equation that equates to even the slightest chance at getting the #8 spot in the West with the way Phoenix and Memphis are playing.
Last Tuesday night before a national audience, Dallas and Oklahoma City met again, this time with Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. Another double digit lead was lost early by Dallas. When overtime came the Mavericks shut down the #2 seed in convincing fashion 128-119. A two game win streak after an 11 game skid. Perhaps the 76ers should take note.
Their third overtime game in four matches, and a heck of a performance by Dirk Nowitzki (after three lackluster performances) with 32 points. Dirk was one of seven Mavericks to score in double figures in the nine point win.
“That was a heck of a game and fun to be a part of,” Dirk Nowitzki said postgame. “It was a great win, especially after we just lost two overtime games. It was a great win against a great team, so that was awesome.”
The Thunder were on a back-to-back. Despite a 43 point night from Kevin Durant (15 of 27 shooting and 5 of 11 from behind the arc), and five other OKC players in double figures, it was Dallas who came up strong down the stretch including Jose Calderon with 22 points days after taking a Mason Plumlee forearm to the mouth. Monta Ellis also chipped in 17 in what Rick Carlisle characterized as an entertaining game.
“We had some tough stretches, but we just hung in there and kept battling,” Carlisle stated. “Obviously, we need the win. I’m just real proud of the way the guys battled the whole way through it.”
Calderon made most of his shooting from behind the arc with six of them, was asked how he felt after the smack he took on Sunday 45 seconds in and making the game tying shot to force overtime.
“It felt good from the beginning,” Calderon shared on his shot, “but until you see that ball going in you still wait for that. I was feeling really comfortable with my shot the whole night, so it was great.”
Next up for the Dallas Mavericks were the #3 seed in the West. The Doc Rivers-led Los Angeles Clippers with the tandem of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Their first visit back since a Friday night game back on January 3rd when a bowl game was happening at AT&T Stadium.
For those keeping track in the last 30 games when a three was to be made, Jose Calderon has connected in 27 of those games. For Vince Carter he has been money in 25 of those games. As for saving a double digit lead, well…may the eighth not happen this Friday!
One final word from Rick Carlisle on the night overall as the Mavericks, like their neighbors the Dallas Stars, have a common opponent in Arizona ahead of them in the points department for the #8 spot in the playoff chase.
Texas versus Arizona until middle April. Two transient cities with four bombastic teams.
4/1 vs Warriors 7:30 PM
4/3 @Clippers 9:30 PM
4/4 @Lakers 9:30 PM
4/6 @Kings 5:00 PM