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Shorthanded Thunder trampled by Mavericks 127-106

With all opening day starters out for Oklahoma City, the Thunder fell to the Mavericks 127-106 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Oklahoma City fell to 19-27 with the loss, losing their third contest in a row to cement themselves at the 13th seed. For Dallas, their win saw the return of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingus helping to get back into the win column for a 24-21 record, good for 7th in the West.

This game started out just as you’d imagine, a Moses Brown rejection. Sides struggled to connect in the first four minutes as the Thunder and Mavericks shot 18 and 25 percent respectively for a  7-6 Dallas lead. Kristaps Porzingus energized a then unappetizing game at the 6 minute, 34 second mark with a right-handed posterizer over Isaiah Roby — infecting the remainder of the Mavericks roster. Dallas took on a mid-quarter 13-2 run to snag a twelve-point advantage in the period. Mark Daigneault thrusted Josh Hall and newcomer Tony Bradley to seal the quarter, helping the shave Dallas’ lead to 31-24 through twelve. Porzingus ran a one-man wrecking crew posting 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting to bolster the Mavs’ 56 percent shooting to the Thunder’s 38 percent.

Tony Bradley flared Oklahoma City’s second quarter firing off 6 consecutive points in the first two minutes. Dallas misfired on their first five shots attempts, trimming the hole to just two minutes later tying off a Pokusevski catch-and-shoot triple. Both units took their talents inside for the greater portion of the half keeping the game neck-and-neck, until the Mavericks charged a 15-3 lead to go up a baker’s dozen expanding to the three. The Thunder’s starters shrunk their hole to 71-63 at the midway point, finding their final field goal off a Pokusevski scoop-and-score. 

Oklahoma City and Dallas shot in the fifties by half, however the Mavericks 10-5 three-point advantage made all the difference come halftime. In a rare instance, all nine of the Thunder’s players scored a minimum of five points through 24, with their bench unit tallying 30 points.    

The Thunder found their bright spot in Svi Mykhailiuk in the third quarter, flashing his athletic ability with a two-handed alley oop from Ty Jerome, following it up with a tomahawk jam on the fastbreak. Despite solid moments and a collective 20 points from Oklahoma City, it was no match for the red-hot Mavericks, who outscored the Thunder 29-20 led by a Dorian Finney-Smith Luka Doncic tandem that dropped eight points a piece. 

Mark Daigneault rolled out all of his bench players (plus Pokusevski) to tango with Dallas’ starter upon the fourth quarter onset — but no spark was provided. The Thunder sulked down to a 25 point void three minutes into the period, dropping under as much as 27 by the games closure.

Rick Carlisle’s group walked away happy as they collected their win in deserving fashion. The trio of Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingus, and Tim Hardaway Jr. torched the Thunder from the jump, combining for 64 points as a collective on 24-of-42 shooting (57.1%.) Even without their three-headed monster Dallas created their looks by continuous ball movement (30 assists) and extending to the three for 16 made triples.

Oklahoma City’s effort was by all means commendable given the circumstances. Down all five day-one starters, the Thunder’s youth wave kept this game close for the first 30 minutes of the contest.

Aleksej Pokusevski led the charge for Oklahoma City dropping 21 points (8-of-17 FG), 6 rebounds, and 2 assists. Poku shot a mere 3-of-10 from downtown Monday however the 19-year-old stayed patient around the basket for 10 points in the paint.

Mark Daigneault gave props to the rookie’s style of play postgame, “His pace these last ten games or so has been significantly different and more controlled…that’s a good indicator the game is slowing down with him.”

Svi Mykhailiuk took advantage of his first start in a Thunder uniform posting 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Svi continued his poignant from outside (2-of-3 3pt FG), and stunned defenders with stepback jumpers, but the real surprise of the night came from his action inside. The 23-year-old ran rampant in the paint dunking on four separate occasions in this game.

“Offensively he is a basketball player…When you unpack his game [he is more than just a shooter],” said Daigneault.

In regards to Josh Hall Mark Daigneault mentioned postgame, “this [season] is like square zero for him” — as displayed Monday, he’s at a pretty good starting point. The 20-year-old relished in his 21-minute spurt ironing out 10 points (3-of-6 FG) looking towards all three-levels. Hall was reminiscent of Hamidou Diallo in this game. The forward meet defenders inside for layups, absorbed contact, and deployed a parachute so to speak, hovering at his apex before launching at his defender’s decline.

Oklahoma City netted three more double-digit scorers in Theo Maledon, Isaiah Roby, and Ty Jerome, who docked 14, 12, and 11 points respectively. Maledon and Jerome reserved their minutes at the point-guard spot battling inside for a combined 10 free throws while Roby neared a double-double with 9 rebounds, and locked up Dallas for 3 steals and 2 blocks.

Moses Brown met his match against 7-foot-3 Kristaps Porzingus as he only converted on 1-of-5 tries inside. Tony Bradley had a promising Thunder debut going a perfect 3-of-3 for 8 points, while hauling in 5 rebounds.

Next up, the Oklahoma City Thunder (19-27) will take Tuesday off before capping their homestand against the Toronto Raptors (18-29) Wednesday.

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