Monday’s night matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks began as both franchises and fans took the time to honor the life of Kobe Bryant just a day after a helicopter crash that took his life, the life of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and the lives of 7 others.
The night began with a moment of a silence, and as the Mavericks won the tip, they took an 8-second half-court violation, followed by a 24-second shot clock violation by the Thunder. After that, it was all business.
The Mavs got the jump on the Thunder as Dallas took a 12-7 lead early behind 9 combined points between Luka Dončić and Kristaps Porziņģis, but OKC followed that up with a 9-0 run. Dallas outscored the Thunder the rest of the quarter, though, to take a 25-22 lead into the second period.
OKC kept it close early in the second quarter, but Dallas was hot from deep. Luka Dončicć led the way for Dallas with 15 first-half points, and after shooting a ridiculous 10-of-23 (43.5%) from three, the Mavs led the Thunder 59-47 at halftime.
Dallas came out in the second half and quickly pushed their lead to 16 just a couple of minutes into the third quarter, but as is typically the case, the Thunder pushed back. Trailing 70-54 with 9:03 left in the period, OKC went on an 11-0 run to cut the deficit to 5.
Dallas answered with 8 straight points of their own to push their lead back to 13. The Thunder hit back with a 12-4 run to trim the deficit back to 5, but the Mavs scored the final 6 points of the third to take an 88-77 lead into the final frame.
The 3-point barrage continued for the Mavericks as Maxi Kleber hit a three to open up the fourth quarter for Dallas, pushing their lead to 14. OKC did everything they could to climb back into the game, but the threes kept falling for the Mavs.
Dallas finished the game 19-of-51 (37.3%) from three, and the Thunder never got within single digits as the Mavs walked away with the 107-97 victory.
Chris Paul missed his first game of the season tonight as he sat out for personal reasons. It is believed that he missed the game to mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant.
Chris Paul will return soon, and good thing, because it was obvious how much he was missed tonight. Without Paul in the lineup, the Thunder lacks an experienced floor general who can come in and take control when the game starts to spiral.
While Shai Gilgeous-Alexander very well may grow into the type of player that Chris Paul is today, it is a blessing that SGA can learn under the tutelage of CP3.
See You Soon, Sacramento
The Thunder is now headed to Sacramento where they will take on the Kings (17-29) on Wednesday. The Kings edged the Thunder 94-93 in the first meeting of the season back on December 11th after OKC gave up a double-digit fourth quarter lead.
Tip-off for that game is at 9 PM CT, and it will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
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