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News » Shorthanded? It makes no difference

Shorthanded? It makes no difference

Shorthanded? It makes no difference
The Thunder beat the Dallas Mavericks 96-87 Monday night at the roaring Ford Center, which is remarkable enough.

But the Thunder did it without injured stars Kevin Durant and Jeff Green. The Thunder did it patching together the kookiest lineups you've ever seen.

Like this one, at the start of the second quarter: Earl Watson and two guys, Thabo Sefolosha and Malik Rose, who two weeks ago were stuck on another team's bench, and two guys, Damien Wilkens and Robert Swift, who for two months have been glued to the Thunder bench.

Who can explain it, who can tell you why? Fools give you reasons, wise men never try.

So I won't play the fool. But somehow, some way, one of the NBA's worst teams, playing without its two best players, took the stately Mavericks to the woodshed.

Which probably proves not much more than this: don't ever write off a game in the NBA.

"That's what you call a team win," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said, using an old clich? that doesn't always fit but certainly did this time.

Call it the most unlikely result in Oklahoma City's three-season NBA history. A makeshift Thunder lineup whacked a Western Conference power fighting for its playoff life.

And for good measure, it was OKC's first major-league win over Dallas. The Hornets were 0-8 against Dallas when they were stationed here.

Russell Westbrook was solid, with a triple double. Kyle Weaver was clutch, with two 3-pointers in the final six minutes that staved off Dallas rallies. Nenad Krstic was efficient, with 26 points on just 16 shots.

But the Thunder also won because the guys who had to introduce themselves to each other while they ran down the court played a professional game.

An early sign the Mavs were in trouble: the Boomers grabbed five offensive rebounds on one trip. That's the sign of scrappers, which the Thunder was Monday night.

Three of those offensive rebounds were snared by Nick Collison, who also helped dog Dirk Nowitzki into just 12 points through three quarters, though he broke out for 16 in the final 10 minutes 10 seconds.

"Looked great," Durant said of his comrades. "They might have to start the rest of the year."

Whoa, pardner. No one, including Brooks, wants to play many games without Durant. But this much is true. The Thunder is playing much better defense with Sefolosha roaming the perimeter, and that defensive attitude has only increased in the three games since Durant's sprained ankle. Probably no coincidence.

Oops. I'm not here to offer reasons. I don't know how it happened, but the Thunder beat the Mavs in a game it had no business winning, and it was some enchanted evening.

Berry Tramel: 405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: March 5, 2009


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