Desperate times, as the phrase goes, call for desperate measures. The Mavericks, facing elimination, kept finding strength at exactly the moments they had to. One of those moments was at the beginning of the fourth quarter: down ten, Dallas hit all their shots for the first four and a half minutes, pulling to within a single possession. But there was one factor neither the Mavs nor Rick Carlisle had considered, and that was some head-steam emitted from the Dallas front office:
Mark Cuban says Kevin Durant is the Thunder's only superstar. What about Russell Westbrook? "He's an All-Star but not a superstar."
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) April 25, 2016
Westbrook, who never reads the papers, obviously read this paper. And with 27.2 left, Justin Anderson dropped an elbow in Westbrook’s face. Frustration will do that to you. Oklahoma City 118, Dallas 104. If you had “Thunder in five,” take a bow. The Only Superstar had a creditable 33 points for the night; but Westbrook racked up 36 (on one fewer shot) and came one dime short of a triple-double. And this despite high-meh performances from Serge Ibaka and Enes Kanter, who accumulated fouls nearly as quickly as they did points.
Still, if I’m Rick Carlisle, I’m looking at all five of my starters in double figures, Dirk, sweet Dirk, with 24, and I’m asking: “What just happened here?” If anyone asks Westbrook, he’ll say something to the effect of “I dunno, man, I just play the game.”
The Spurs are next.