As the San Antonio Spurs suffered their first loss of the season in a blowout against the Houston Rockets, there’s another team in the Southwest Division with possibly bigger troubles.
And that team would be the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks who finally played a competitive game against the Oklahoma City Thunder (4-0) but had a mental-meltdown on the last play of the game as Thunder forward Kevin Durant sunk a 29-foot game winner to keep the Mavericks winless.
The Mavericks were down 101-99 with less than five seconds remaining in the game when the ghost of Vince Carter actually came through with a big shot as he made a three pointer with time winding down, and the Mavericks held a 102-101 lead with 01.4 seconds remaining in the game.
After analyzing the final play you have to give credit to Thunder head coach Scott Brooks who devised a really good out-of-bounds play that built Durant a wall to get free for the last shot. First, Thunder guard James Harden set a screen on the player defending Durant, Shawn Marion. Then, Thunder center Kendrick Perkins set a second screen that permitted Mavericks guard Jason Terry from switching onto Durant.
Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki was defending the inbounds player and was too late on reading Durant’s activity on the perimeter.
With the wall of screens set, Durant received the pass and had enough time to get the shot up off of a curl screen to sink it with Maverick’s defenders arriving late. Check it out in action.
Looking at the analysis of the play, you have to think that the Maverick’s would have told each other, “Kevin Durant will not shoot this last shot! He better not!” in the previous timeout.
How do you let the focal point of the Thunder’s offense get a wide-open look after he’s known to hit game winners? That’s the type of season the Mavericks are having early on.
Durant went on to finish the game as the leading scorer with 30 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, two blocks, and one steal while going 3-of-5 from distance.
Dirk Nowitzki had 29 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists to lead the Mavericks.
As of Friday morning, here are the standings in the Southwest division; it’s hard to believe two of the four-playoff teams from last season are winless five days into the season.
New Orleans Hornets (2-0), San Antonio Spurs (2-1), Houston Rockets (1-1), Memphis Grizzlies (0-2), Dallas Mavericks (0-3)