Thunder hang on to defeat Mavericks
(The Sports Xchange) - The Oklahoma City Thunder watched a 29-point fourth-quarter lead over the undermanned Dallas Mavericks whittled down to 14 before finally pulling away for a 108-89 victory at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
"It was a difficult game for everybody," Thunder center Enes Kanter said. "They rested their guys, but like I always say, we can't worry about what they're doing. We can only focus on what we do on the court and play basketball."
Kevin Durant scored 29 points to lead Oklahoma City. He shot nine of 14 from the field to go with 10 rebounds and four assists, while Serge Ibaka added 20 points and 11 rebounds as the Thunder improved to 28-12.
Playing without all five starters, the Mavericks were paced by J.J. Barea, who had 18 points and six assists. Raymond Felton added 14 points on three of 11 shooting as the Mavs fell to 22-18.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle liked the way his team competed under difficult circumstances and singled out Barea for praise.
"(Barea) is a walking breathing, stubborn, competitor. That's why he's been a really terrific 10-year player," added Carlisle. "He's not going to back down. The bigger the moment, the bigger the challenge, the more he is going to rise to it. I think we have a team of competitors."
It took a couple of minutes for Oklahoma City to get themselves interested when the game started. Without Dallas having their normal cast of rivals on the court for Durant, Ibaka and Russell Westbrook to focus on, they came out with a lackluster look.
But the mismatches quickly started to become apparent. Felton was forced to defend Durant, who scored 11 points in the opening quarter.
The Mavericks had no players to turn to in order to change the tide. Barea tried to provide the needed offense and keep the contest close. Continued...