OKLAHOMA CITY —
However, when the Thunder began to insert its bench with 2:20 left in the first, it went on a 22-6 run to take a 44-28 lead. The Oklahoma City reserves were able to get into the passing lanes and come up with steals that turned into fastbreak points.
Without Vince Carter, who was ill, the Mavericks were missing a vital scoring punch off the bench. Coach Rick Carlisle hoped the other reserves would be able to pick up the slack.
“When we substituted, we struggled,” Carlisle said. “Not having Vince out there was a big factor.”
It didn’t get any better when the Thunder starters came back into the game. Durant and Westbrook kept the pressure on as the Mavs started to lose their composure. Dallas’ O.J. Mayo and Jae Crowder exchanged shoves and stares with Kendrick Perkins and the entire Thunder bench. Oklahoma City led 68-44 at halftime, setting a team scoring high for a half this season.After its loss in Cleveland on Saturday, the Thunder seemed to need a game like this.
“The last couple of weeks, it has been a little choppy at times,” Brooks said. “One of the things we do is work. Our guys work every night. It’s not always pretty. It’s not always perfect. But for the most part, they compete every time down the court.”