Monday evening the Dallas Mavericks traveled to Chesapeake Energy Arena to take on the shorthanded Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder were without their blossoming superstar Shai-Gilgeous Alexander (foot), the buttress of their defense in second-year guard Lugentz Dort (concussion protocol), veteran center Al Horford (rest), and second-year forward Darius Bazley (shoulder). The Mavericks were at full health for one of the few times in recent weeks as both Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis took the floor.
The game began with the Thunder trying to find some form of offensive rhythm with their new starting five of Maledon, Svi, Pokusevski, Roby, and Brown. Midway through the opening period, the thunder had barely managed double-digit scoring. Ty Jerome entered the game and created a spark with his playmaking and excellent court vision. Helping Jerome ignite the offense was newly acquired center, Tony Bradley. Bradley managed a quick four points off of Ty Jerome helpers. The Thunder managed to muster up 24 first-quarter points after the slow start but still faced a 9 point deficit at the quarter’s end.
The second quarter had a significantly better offensive flow for both teams. Two-way player Josh Hall entered the game for the Thunder and scored 8 points on efficient shooting. Rookie enigma Aleskej Pokusevski continued to show the fearless style of play that has come to define his short Thunder tenure. Routinely pushing the ball in transition, shooting deep triples, and at times flashing potential that makes you wonder how he could have slipped past sixteen other franchises on draft night. On one possession Pokusevski ball faked Porzingis, took a quick pivot, and used his long gait to sidestep the 7″3 forward for a finger-roll layup. Despite scoring 39 second-quarter points the Thunder still trailed by 8 heading into the half.
The third quarter is where the Mavericks began to run away with it. Luka Doncic once again started making tough, contested shots near the paint while also getting plenty of opportunities at the charity stripe. The Maverick’s other role players took advantage of the extra space afforded them by the increased defensive attention being paid to Doncic and started knocking down perimeter shots. The Mavericks would continue increasing their lead in the fourth quarter to soundly defeat Oklahoma City by a final score of 127 to 106.
This result was expected with the deluge of injuries Oklahoma City was contending with. Despite the loss, there was plenty of positive to take from the game. Rookies Aleskej Pokusevski, Theo Maledon, and Josh Hall all played well. Maledon got invaluable experience playing as the lead guard scoring 14 points and pulling down 5 boards. Center Tony Bradley had a solid debut scoring 8 points and grabbing 5 rebounds in just 14 minutes of action. Ty Jerome once again proved that he can be a legitimate contributor and why he should be factored into general manager Sam Presti’s long-term plan.
The Thunder will return to action Wednesday night at 7:00 pm as they host the Toronto Raptors at Chesapeake Energy Arena.