OKC Thunder own clutch time versus Dallas Mavericks – player grades

DECEMBER 31: Chris Paul #3 of the OKC Thunder looks on during the game against the Dallas Mavericks (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
DECEMBER 31: Chris Paul #3 of the OKC Thunder looks on during the game against the Dallas Mavericks (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
DECEMBER 31: Seth Curry #30 of the Dallas Mavericks handles the ball against the OKC Thunder. (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Chris Paul captains the OKC Thunder in massive clutch time victory over Luka Doncic and his Dallas Mavericks. Player grades provide the details.

The OKC Thunder followed up a defensive battle in the 6ix with a match featuring the best offensive team in the NBA.

Defense still factored and the contest still required clutch time for the decision to be cemented. And, as is becoming a typical situation for this Thunder squad  – they owned the period better known as ‘clutch time’.

In pregame fans learned the Thunder would be getting back the trio of talented individuals who’ve been missing in action the past few games and in one case a much longer absence. That group included Dennis Schroder, Danilo Gallinari, and Hamidou Diallo. Their presence made an impact, particularly Gallo whose offense was sorely missed.

149. Final. 101. 79. 106

As for the game, it followed an odd pattern often with the score defying what it felt like we were witnessing. For example, the Thunder were freezing from the field and perimeter early on and couldn’t seem to hit anything.

By the half it felt like the Thunder should be trailing by double digits but inexplicably OKC was only trailing by one point. Then in the third quarter, it felt like the Thunder should’ve pulled ahead by a greater margin but somehow ended up playing to a draw and trailed by a point entering the final frame.

It also became immediately clear the friendly whistle afforded the Thunder in Toronto was going the way of the Mavericks (at least early). Terrance Ferguson picked up two quick fouls defending Luka Doncic in less than two minutes of action and was limited to 18 minutes on the court due to constant foul trouble.

Luka Doncic is slippery to guard and that makes for a tricky matchup. Very much like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Doncic plays at his own pace and can’t be sped up. That factor (and his high I.Q.) often result in fouls.

It’s not that either player is slow. Rather, it’s that they both play the game with a determined focus knowing precisely how they want to run plays. They can both lull opponents to sleep and suddenly run by their defender to drop in an easy basket or pass out to an open teammate.

Hey, it wouldn’t be the Thunder if they weren’t in a dog fight right to the end game. All in all, it was an enjoyable match and a reminder of just how competitive this Thunder team is. Moreover, with a predominantly healthy roster, fans got to witness how the team can matchup versus one of the best squads in the Association.

With that let’s look at the player grades from the loss.