By Robert Scalice
The Dallas Mavericks knew going onto Friday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder that this was no ordinary opponent, that they would be dealing with the team considered by most to be the best in the NBA. They had to also have known that a good showing against them would help provide a stamp of legitimacy to their recently improved play and open the eyes of the skeptics.
What transpired either signaled to the world that the Mavs are, in fact, a playoff-caliber team and a force to be reckoned with, or simply a team that wasted a good effort and an opportunity to beat arguably the league’s premier ballclub. In what turned out to be an exceptionally thrilling contest, the Mavericks fell to the Thunder in overtime 117-114 at the American Airlines Center and ended their four-game winning streak.
Dallas was victimized by the man who’s tortured them so many times before- Kevin Durant. “Mr. Velvet Hoops” scored a career-high 52 points, including 21 of 21 from the foul line, demonstrating why he may just be the best pure scorer in the game today. In spite of his monster performance, the Mavericks played him tough and made him work for most of his points, as he shot only 13 of 31 from the field.
With the loss, the Mavericks fell to 17-24 on the season and to 1-8 in overtime games – certainly not the sign of a contender. However, Dallas did play a great team evenly for much of the evening and nearly came out with the win.
If the Mavericks continue to play with the kind of effort and passion they showed in defeat against an elite team, they stand a good chance of creeping back towards the .500 mark and into the playoff picture.