Sunday, May 22nd, 2011 at 9:19 am  |  21 responses

Post Up: Mavs Take Three

Dallas holds off OKC, goes up 2-1.

Dallas 93, Oklahoma City 87

Dallas used a devastating opening quarter, a 34-minute spell with a double-digit lead, and almost historic defense of the 3-point line to claim a 2-1 series lead over Oklahoma City, taking back home-court advantage in the Western finals.

The Mavs simply had more contributors, led by Jason Kidd, who’s getting harder to articulate as his career progresses. He’s either the master of controlling games without shooting, a sheer basketball android in terms of knowledge and IQ, dripping with leadership and vision; or, his deficiencies and age make for little more than a vague reminder of those fast-breaking days as the League’s best point. Either way, there was little denying his impact in this one: 13 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists and 4 steals, a tidy output matched only by Shawn Marion, another veteran, in terms of difference-making. Marion defended Kevin Durant with vigor, filled the lanes for easy scores, and led Dallas with a line (18 points, 4 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks) that’s slightly watered down to the ones he produced regularly from, say, 2003 to 2007, but highly valued nonetheless.

All eyes of course found themselves on the contradicting Russell Westbrook. He was the victim of both a gameless NBA day following his Game 2 benching (leaving nothing else for the mainstream to dissect) and his own accelerated growth; growth that can give way to heightened expectations for a 22-year old still learning a position management chose for him but also be tainted with deserved criticism for obviously poor on-floor choices. He was typically maddening and thrilling: 30 points, 14 trips to the line, an inspired stretch that pumped life into his team, but also 7 turnovers and forced action. Durant wasn’t much better, with a messy 24 points, missing all 8 of his threes while being harassed by the suddenly-resurgent Marion.

Oklahoma City missed an opportunity, and not in the literal sense of surrendering home court. They won the battle of the boards and held Nowitzki to single-digits through three. But their lethargic start, horrible 3-point shooting (1-17), and poor bench (save for Nick Collison)—that same bench that practically won them the prior game—made the hill too steep.

Game 4, as it usually does, will let us know which direction we’re headed: Dallas going home to clinch, or a wide-open 3-game series. —Todd Spehr

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  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    The refs in this were….
    Oh never mind.

  • Bulls2011champs

    Who does russel think he is? Down 6 with 2 minutes left, he jacks up 2 terrible shots then obviously frustrated at his own stupidity he walks through a screen and watches Terry make one of the easiest jumpers you’ll ever see. Not to mention he doesn’t even look for by far the top guy on your team at the end of a playoff game. What a phukkin clown

  • fizzbucket

    Durant is shooting like Kobe this postseason. It seemed like Nick Collison was the best Thunder player on the floor.

  • JoeMaMa

    The fact that OKC went 1-17 and lost by 6 should motivate the Thunder. It’s not like Dallas forced them into bad 3s. They missed open shots, a ton, and still made it a game at the end.

  • Vince5

    If it wasn’t for Nick Collison, the Thunder would have lost by 20. Also, Harden could be an actor with the acting skill he showed us last night.

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    I’m beginning to think that Derrick Rose is on Russell Westbrook’s mind.
    I love Westbrook’s game, though. And, he has heart. When his mind is right, he is perfect for Durant.
    But, he really seems to be trying too hard. In my opinion, it would behoove him and his team if he just let the games come to him, and relax. Stay intense and aggressive, but relax.
    And, being frustrated is cool. Heat of battle. But, when you stop going hard on defense, you let your team down.
    That is unacceptable.

  • Eddie1

    Don’t blame Russ. Blame tha you know who

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    Concerning the referees;
    For a long time the refs have appeared to have been conducting themselves in a suspicious manner in the eyes of us common folk. I’m sure at least some of the the players feel like they see this too.
    But, as hard as it is to fight through that and prevail, it has to be done. At that point, it becomes mental. It is easier said than done, obviously, but the referees are going to do what they are paid to do. *hint*
    So, teams HAVE to adjust.
    Players have been playing too long to not know how to adjust.
    In my opinion.

  • T-Money

    Russ needs to get out of OKC. He can’t win. People are blaming HIM for KD having bad games now. 0-8 from 3s and we’re talking about Russ?

  • T-Money

    People don’t want him to improve, they want him to be something he’s not. Everyone knew he was a score-first point guard since the jump and that’s how he became an NBA all-star, now they want him to play like Rondo?

  • JTaylor21

    Of course the supposedly best scorer goes 7-22 and misses all 8 3pt attempts yet people still find a way to blame a guy that was the reason the game was that close towards the end.
    How bout KD shouldering blame for once instead of running around playing the humble guy role?

  • ripslam

    OKC needs to change their team colors, and uniforms, for that matter. They have the weirdest logo, unis, and colors in the league. It’s like slightly darkened, off-hue blue, black, and orange-but-not-quite-Knicks-orange orange. Blegh.

  • http://www.walshsportsblog.com Darren

    Just one thought: does home court advantage mean nothing anymore? Never seen so many wins for the away team in the playoffs.

  • monkeyball

    Sad to see what OKC has become. They can be great on both sides of the court one game, terrible the next. For better or worse, Westbrook’s confidence will be destroyed if they lose the series. Does this help him mature into a D-Rose-like superstar or tag him as a selfish non-leader for the rest of his prime years?

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Russ definitely outplayed KD that game. But a scoring point guard is still a point guard–your job is to run the offense and move the ball. Several times Westbrook would run up the floor, pause at the 3 point line, and then wave his teammates away to go 1-on-1. You can’t go 1-on-1 from the 3 point line when there’s still 15 seconds on the shot clock. And you can’t be turning the ball over 7 times.
    That being said, he still shot the ball a lot better than anyone else on his team.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    *15 seconds because you dribbled the other 9 out…
    Nick Collison was the MVP for the Thunder last night though. His defense on Nowitzki was the best out of any defender in the playoffs thus far (at least on Nowitzki).

  • http://www.slamonline.com unf*ckwitable

    shut up Jtaylor, you harp on about Rose shooting but never say anything about Westbrook jacking up terrible shots.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    @unf*ckwitable just leave it be. JTaylor will probably just reply with that corny-a** “Sensitive thugs” line again.

  • Ronald

    It wasn’t the fact that Westbrook took a lot of shots. But the fact that he took two really bad shots in two very important moments. He actually played really well up to that point.

  • http://dsjkflf.com Jukai

    I can’t really blame Westbrook this game.

  • http://www.courtvisionmag.com caseyouainthurd

    Westbrook is unfairly the scapegoat, but enough about him. Dirk was on a mission during the last 4 minutes of regulation. Wow, did you see those j’s he made over some great Nick Collison defense? Dirk is real