No sweat for Thunder
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
2/05/13 at 7:14 AM
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OKLAHOMA CITY - Dallas and Oklahoma City were matched in the 2011 Western Conference finals. The Mavericks prevailed in a five-game series and went on to conquer the Miami Heat for the NBA championship.
Only 21 months have passed since that Dallas-OKC series, but the organizations are in completely different places now.
On Monday, in a blowout that attracted the 89th consecutive sellout crowd to Chesapeake Energy Arena, the Thunder made it look easy. Getting 24 points from Russell Westbrook, 19 from Kevin Durant and 17 from Kevin Martin, Oklahoma City rolled to a 112-91 victory.
"I thought our guys were terrific tonight," OKC coach Scott Brooks said.
Since the 2011 Western Conference finals, the Thunder and Mavericks have been matched 11 times (including postseason games). In those games, Oklahoma City is 10-1.
"We responded well" after Saturday's loss at Cleveland, Durant stated. "I'm looking forward to seeing how we respond against a good team - Golden State coming in here (on Wednesday)."
At the three-minute mark of Monday's first period, Dallas and Oklahoma City were tied at 22-22. By halftime, OKC had a 68-44 cushion. The Thunder went on to lead by as many as 33 points and improved to 36-12.
"When you dig that deep of a hole for yourself on the road, you're not coming back from that," said Shawn Marion, who led the Mavericks with 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting. The Dallas record dropped to 20-28.
During the second period, the Thunder connected on 14-of-19 shots from the field and was 8-of-9 on free throws. Westbrook had a nearly perfect second quarter, scoring 11 points while dishing four assists and not committing a turnover.
"I think we forced a lot of turnovers, which gave us opportunities for transition points," said Westbrook, who, in homage to "The Simpsons," was attired in a Duff Beer shirt after the game.
During his previous five NBA seasons, Durant was popped for a combined total of 12 technical fouls. He got one on Monday - his ninth of the 2012-13 season.
"I've just got to shut up. I'm racking them up, man," Durant said. "Sometimes I get too excited and voice my opinion when I shouldn't."
Oklahoma City guard Thabo Sefolosha remembers the Western Conference finals as having been a growth experience for the Thunder.
After the 2011 series loss to Dallas, "I was thinking we were close," Sefolosha said. "We definitely have the talent. That's what we were missing - the experience." At the end of the 2011-12 season, OKC surged to the NBA Finals.
While the Thunder roster includes seven players from the 2011 playoffs, Dallas has retained only three - Dirk Nowitzki, Marion and Rodrigue Beaubois.
Vs. Golden State
7 p.m. Wednesday
Radio: KYAL fm97.1
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (left) blocks the shot of Dallas' Darren Collison during the Thunder's 112-91 victory over the Mavericks at the Chesapeake Energy Center in Oklahoma City on Monday. NATE BILLINGS / The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Kevin Martin (left) steals the ball from Dallas' Jae Crowder during Monday night's game between the Thunder and Mavericks at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. NATE BILLINGS / The Oklahoman