OKLAHOMA CITY — The decision was made weeks ago. In games in which Oklahoma City played back to back games, Russell Westbrook was going to take a seat on the bench.
With the Thunder playing in Chicago Monday, they took the opportunity to rest Westbrook Sunday against the Dallas Mavericks. Already down two starters and facing a hungry team trying to stay in playoff contention , it was too much to overcome for even MVP candidate Kevin Durant as they fell to the Mavs 109-86 Sunday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The 23-points represented the largest margin of defeat for the Thunder this season, but it wasn’t enough to make the Thunder second guess resting their star point guard.
“The temptation doesn’t even go through our mind,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We have a plan and we’re going to stick with it.”
Regardless, it was a big win for Dallas, who snapped an 11-game losing streak to Oklahoma City and held onto their seventh place position in the Western Conference.
“This is a tough place to play,” Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki said. “Obviously, Westbrook getting the night off helped us. It’s really only a good thing if you win the game. I’ve played plenty of games in career before, where people were resting and we still lost. So it’s only an advantage if you take care of business.”
With Westbrook sitting out, the Oklahoma City offense ran through Durant much of the night.
However, the team didn’t respond like it had when Durant ran the offense during Westbrook’s injury absence. Oklahoma City found itself down by 21 heading into the fourth quarter.
No matter what Oklahoma City (48-18) tried, Dallas had an answer to rebuff any fourth-quarter rallies. From 3-pointers by Vince Carter to fade-away jumpers by Nowitzki, the Mavericks (40-27) scored at will to start the quarter and put the contest away early.