Even in Loss to Thunder, Mavs Show Encouraging Signs

Though disappointed by the Mavs’ abysmal late-game execution, I was still encouraged by last night’s three-point loss in Oklahoma City.

When you cough up a late four-point lead with missed free throws and uncharacteristic turnovers, it’s a bad loss. But when you again prove that you – despite being still well shy of full-speed – can play with the best in the West, it’s an encouraging defeat.

The Thunder were without Kevin Durant and the Mavs still have Chandler Parsons on a pitch count, so neither team will resemble the one that makes a playoff push next spring. But the surprising Mavs again showed their good enough to win big games in hostile environments.

While also reminding us that their margin for error is ever so slim.

Behind two Dirk Nowitzki jumpers Dallas took a 108-104 lead with 3:41 remaining. Too close out games the Mavs can’t rely on athleticism but rather experience, efficiency and execution. All crumbled down the stretch.

Two missed free throws by Zaza Pachulia and consecutive turnovers by Nowitzki and Deron Williams fueled a quick 9-0 Thunder run. Still, the game came down to the final possession. Rick Carlisle’s teams usually devour last-second shots but Wesley Matthews didn’t get a clean look at the basket, settling instead for some wild, spinning prayer that hit nothing but hardwood.

For a team that made 10-of-19 3-pointers, not getting a decent shot to tie the game is inexcusable.

The Mavs committed 17 turnovers and missed 12 free throws. But the fact they still had a chance to win in OKC reinforces our hope that this might not be a lost season after all.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

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