2011 NBA WEST FINALS GAME 2 -- Thunder 106, Mavericks 100: My Top 10 Observer-ations
10. You knew the Thunder wouldn't be content to lose another game of one-on-one with Dirk Nowitzki. They fronted him in the post. They doubled him. They held him to 29 points. Nick Collison, touche. And, you're right, that's something I thought I'd never type.
9. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle is lamenting the Mavs' horrible defense, documenting OKC's 56-percent shooting and 106 points. But, you know what, I didn't think it was that bad. James Harden made some impossible shots and the Thunder -- unlike the maddening finesse finish attempts of Shawn Marion -- attacked the rim. The Thunder possess a ton of individual offensive skill. Hard to imagine -- in Game 6 of the previous series -- the Grizzlies holding them to 29 points ... in a half.
8. Mavs players tell me that one day during practice in their post-Lakers layover Peja Stojakovic made 96 out of 100 3-pointers, including 57 in a row. Impressive. Almost unbelievable. But in this series he's only 3 of 11, including a miss off a set play that could've sliced the deficit to one with nine seconds left.
7. Lamest part of this series? ABC play-by-play man Mike Breen shouting "puts it in!" on a made shot. Puts it in? What the what?! You put out the trash. You put your laundry in the hamper. You put your cigarette out. Simple, mundane tasks. Saying a player "puts" the basketball into the hoop diminishes the act, and the significance of said act. Right Marv "Yessssss!" Albert?
6. Hard to blame Dirk for anything, but he picked a really bad time for his first free-throw miss of the series. After making 39 in a row in these playoffs, he front-rimmed the second of two free throws -- after a crafty (re: traveling) move to keep both feet behind the 3-point line while being fouled -- to leave Dallas down by four instead of three with 36 seconds left. By the way, take a bow if you predicted that through two games Dirk would have more dunks (2) than 3-point attempts (0).
5. Gutsy move by Thunder coach Scotty Brooks leaving emotional, erratic All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook on the bench the entire fourth quarter. Not many coaches would. But, yep, backup Eric Maynor was good enough to coax OKC to the finish line.
4. Kevin Durant's first-quarter dunk over Brendan Heywood was sick. Using the 7-foot defender to climb even higher, his head was almost looking down at the rim as he violently, emphatically threw the ball in. Awesome highlight. Indelible image. But a couple things. The uncharacteristic, unnecessary taunting technical foul that punctuated the play sorta cheapened it. And, while no doubt it awoke OKC from an nine-point deficit, I'm not ready to say it changed a series. And ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy needs to calm waaaay down: "That has to be the top play in the NBA all year!" Two words: Blake. Griffin.
3. Despite the loss, there's zero reason to panic. Figured it would be a looong series and the Mavs have been the NBA's best road team the last two seasons. We're just getting started.
2. This one's on Jason Terry. He's been great during these playoffs and he had 24 points in Game 1. But last night night he had as many turnovers (3) as field goals (3) and didn't make a single 3-pointer. Plain and simple, OKC's sixth man (23 points) kicked the ass of Dallas' sixth man (eight points) in Game 2. And not only was Terry inept offensively, his stupid foul on Harden's triple that created a four-point play at the end of the third quarter kinda sucked the energy out of AAC. Not as boneheaded as his foul on Lamar Odom's 60-foot heave in the Lakers series, but still ...
1. After the game in the locker room Dirk said "they wanted it more" and Tyson Chandler made this admission: "We came out and took these boys lightly." Shame on the Mavs. And, admit it, you did the same thing.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.