Not even applying a dose of physicality could prevent the Dallas Mavericks from getting this three-game road trip off on the wrong foot.
Vince Carter was ejected in the third quarter Wednesday night and the Oklahoma City Thunder went on to rough up the Mavs, winning 107-93 before a sellout crowd of 18,203 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Mavs are now 3-2 on the season heading into Friday’s game in Minnesota.
A day after resoundingly winning at home against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Mavs couldn’t push the right buttons at the right time against the Thunder. Those 21 turnovers the Mavs committed certainly didn’t help their cause.
Kevin Durant tallied 23 points, Russell Westbrook scored 22 and Serge Ibaka had 17 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks for Oklahoma City.
It was the first of a three-game road trip that continues Friday in Minnesota and concludes Saturday in Milwaukee before the Mavs return home to host Washington on Tuesday.
The Mavs hung around for better than three quarters, but couldn’t overcome 21 turnovers. By the time Russell Westbrook converted yet another Mavs turnover into a fast-break layup, OKC led 95-80 with 7:37 left and was well on its way to sending Dallas to its second loss of the season.
Shortly thereafter, following an air ball by Jose Calderon as the shot clock expired, Westbrook flew in for a flying dunk that helped punctuate this night for the Thunder.
Monta Ellis led the Mavs with 20 points, Shawn Marion and Jae Crowder each scored 17, and Dirk Nowitzki tallied 16 points.
Not even getting overly aggressive with the Thunder made a difference for the Mavs.
Late in the third period, Carter was ejected when he was whistled for a Flagrant 2 Foul after clocking Steven Adams in the head with what the lead referee described as an intentional elbow.
Considering they played Tuesday night and the Thunder hadn’t played since Sunday, the Mavs acquitted themselves well in the first half.
Behind nine points apiece from Ellis and Marion, the Mavs were within 33-31 of Oklahoma City at the end of the first quarter. At that juncture, Marion had converted 4-of-5 shots while Ellis was 4-of-6, including a couple of dazzling quick spins through traffic that caught the eye of Durant’s mom, who was sitting courtside.
“Paint attacks is one of the things every team wants to have,” coach Rick Carlisle said before the game. “We want to get it from a lot of different places, not just [Ellis].
“But it all starts with good ball movement.”
Also for the Mavs in the first period, Samuel Dalembert tallied four points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Thanks to some costly turnovers by Dallas in the second period, the Thunder began putting some separation between themselves and the visitors from North Texas. The Mavs committed seven of their 10 first-half turnovers in the second quarter, leading to 11 points for the Thunder and a 57-51 cushion for Oklahoma City at intermission.
With the Mavs picking up six more turnovers in the third period, the Thunder’s lead grew to as many as 15 points before they settled on an 85-75 advantage going into the final quarter.
A couple of late baskets by Ellis helped keep things close for the Mavs.
“We want to move it for him to be able to catch and receive screens randomly,” Carlisle said. “Those are harder plays to guard than if you’re calling out plays.”