The Oklahoma City Thunder: Try to sedate your brain and consider the following: The Thunder finished last night's game with an Offensive Rebound Rate of 30.6, an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 52.1, a Free Throw Rate of 59.7 and an Offensive Efficiency of 120.4...and they lost the game.
Or maybe it's more accurate to say the Mavericks won it. And they sure didn't do it by stopping Oklahoma City. Dallas scored with the kind of efficiency that must have had John Hollinger biting his lip and silently caressing his calculator.
The Mavs shot 53.3 percent from the field -- including 9-for-23 from downtown -- and converted 34 of their 36 free throw attempts (94.5 percent). That gave them an eFG% of 59.6 and allowed them to score 130.1 points per 100 possessions.
With all due respect to Jason Terry (24 points, 8-for-16), J.J. Barea (21 points, 8-for-12) and Jason Kidd (11 assists), this one was all about Dirk Nowitzki.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 48 points, his sixth career 40-point playoff game, finishing two points shy of his playoff career-high.
Among active players, only Shaquille O'Neal (12), Kobe Bryant (11) and LeBron James (nine) have more career 40-point playoff games.
Nowitzki set an NBA record by going 24-for-24 from the free throw line, the most free throws made in a single game without a miss -- regular season or postseason.
He drew fouls from seven different Thunder defenders, including all five of Serge Ibaka's. Dirk went 7-for-9 when guarded by Ibaka, including 6-for-8 on post-up plays.
Combining field goal attempts and free throw attempts, the ball left Dirk Nowitzki's hand 39 times tonight; 36 of those times, it went in the hoop.
Nowitzki attempted just 15 shots, the second-fewest field goal attempts in a 40-point playoff game in NBA history.
Only Terry Porter, back in 1992 for the Portland Trail Blazers, needed fewer attempts (41 points on 14 attempts) to reach the 40-point plateau. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, his field-goal percentage of 80.0 is tied for the highest ever in a Conference finals game (minimum 15 FGA).
I think Luc Richard Mbah a Moute needs to rewrite his scouting report to read simply: HIDE YOUR WOMEN, CHILDREN, AND ALL YOUR VALUABLES. YOU CANNOT STOP DIRK NOWITZKI.
Seriously, Mbah a Moute said: "Dirk is a shooter, that's what he does. That's his game. So when you have a guy who shoots, you can contest his shots, you can body him up and you can take him out of his shots making it tough for him to get in a rhythm. ... You want a player like Dirk to drive all night. You want to give him the drive and make sure the help comes or try to take a charge."
Well, the Thunder took that advice to heart, and they made Dirk drive. The end result was that record-setting night at the foul line. When he wasn't doing stuff like this that is:
SCOUTING REPORT FAIL.
Said Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks: "I thought we defended him as close as we can -- obviously, too close."
Obviously. Think about this: Nowitzki scored 48 points on 15 shots.
According to Dirk, he spent the nine-day break between sweeping the Fakers and starting the Western Conference Finals engaging in late-night shooting sessions. I'm sure he wanted to add something like "and the voodoo rites necessary to make it so I never miss another shot ever again." What? Nowitzki only went 12-for-15 from the field, you say? I'm sure he realized he'd have to miss a few shots now and then just so people wouldn't realize dark magic was involved. Probably decided that while he was washing the pig's blood off his ceremonial wizard's robe.
Said Nowitzki: "I was really looking to shoot early and was able to get my rhythm after the first couple of shots. I kept attacking and my teammates kept feeding me and feeding me and I was able to take advantage over some smaller players."
Kevin Durant -- whose 40-point, 8-rebound, 4-assist, 2-block night was completely overshadowed by what Dirk did -- said: "We can't get discouraged. He's going to make shots. He's going to make off-balanced shots with a hand in his face."
Added Ibaka: "He was hot. It's tough. You can't get frustrated. I'll watch film and we'll come back the next game."
I'm not sure Ibaka really wants to review that film. It would be like watching a home video of your own violent murder. Then Ibaka will realize he was a ghost the whole time, Sixth Sense-style. Actually, you know, that would explain a lot about his defense last night.
Memo to the Thunder: Smacking Dirk around the way you did to Zach Randolph might not work in this series. Not when he shoots free throws like this:
Said Durant: "After playing a physical series with Memphis, I think we were a little too physical with him. We have to make adjustments, be smarter. It's a learning experience, just feeling it out and seeing how we're going to play."
Russell Westbrook: Westbrook was aggressive looking for his shot and getting to the free throw line. The good news is that he went 14-for-18 at the charity stripe. The bad news is that he went missed 10 of his first 11 field goal attempts and ultimately ended up 3-for-15. And, as the AP recap pointed out, "Despite his poor aim, he had taken more shots than Durant at one point late in the third quarter, fueling the critics who say he's too much of a scorer and not enough of a distributor."
What? Because he attempted 15 shots and 18 free throws while finishing with more turnovers (4) than assists (3) despite playing with one of the league's most prolific scoring machines, who was on his way to scoring 40 points on 10-for-18 from the field and 18-for-19 at the line? Are those critics really suggesting he should have been feeding Durant instead of looking to score?
Said Brooks: "He was attacking the basket. That's what we want Russell to do."
I bet. Especially when he shoots 1-for-6 from 3-9 feet, 0-for-1 from 10-15 feet and 0-for-3 from 16-23 feet. At least he didn't jack up any threes.
Kendrick Perkins: Okay. It's official. I'm sick of Perk's tough guy act. Exactly one minute and 11 seconds into the game, he grabbed Tyson Chandler's arm while they were jockeying for position under the hoop, and then he got in Chandler's face after Durant knocked down a 15-footer. For some bizarre reason, the official called a double technical even though, as far as I could tell, Chandler didn't do anything other than stand there looking sour.
Exactly two minutes later, again while they were establishing position under the basket, Perkins basically brought his elbow through Chandler's head. It wasn't a swing so much as a push, but the refs caught this one and Perk was whistled for his second personal and had to go to the bench.
Kendrick didn't commit another foul, but he ended up logging only 28 minutes, during which the Thunder were outscored by 14 points. And yes, in case you were wondering, Perk did in fact have the worst plus-minus score of the game.
Peja Stojakovic: Peja is a shooter. He's there to shoot. Which he did, squeezing off eight shots in 21 minutes, six of which were three-point attempts. He hit exactly one of those shots. Man, it feels like 2002 all over again, doesn't it?
The Dallas D: Do you realize that, if you subtract Westbrook's 3-for-15 brick-a-palooza, the Thunder shot 54 percent from the field? The other starters were on fire: Durant (10-for-18), Ibaka (7-for-11), Perkins (3-for-4), Sefolosha (2-for-2). Oklahoma City went to the line 43 times and shot 43.8 percent from beyond the arc. Oh, and they had 22 fast break points.
If Dirk hadn't been so legendary, this game really might have swung the other way.
Dirk Nowitzki, poster boy: It wasn't all violins and roses for Dirk.
Kevin Durant's post-game fashion statement: Was he on his way to his sixth grade yearbook photo shoot or something?
Magic Johnson, quote machine: This one was submitted by Will R. of Two Middles Up. Here's Magic on Dirk's performance: "He might have three legs tonight the way he was shootin'!"
No, really. Here's video:
The Human Heat-ipede: My buddy Gauvin is a surgery nurse and recently watched The Human Centipede out of professional curiosity. His curiosity quickly turned to horror and the nearly unstoppable urge to barf. Which, of course, translated into the need to tell all his friends about the movie in exacting detail. In case you don't know about it -- and I'm not sure how any regular Internet users could have at this point -- here's a one-sentence summary: A mad doctor kidnaps three people and sews them together ass-to-mouth to create a human centipede.
This Deadspin link was provided by reader inkybreath at my By The Horns blog. Apparently, some guys made the following poster for Game 1 of the Heat-Bulls series. Security didn't let them into the United Center, unfortunately, but no amount of security could keep it off the Internet.
The worst part is that the Cavs, who were stabbed in the heart by LeBron James last summer, didn't even win with their own pick. (As the second worst team, they had has a 19% chance of nabbing No. 1 overall.) They won with a Clippers pick that they got in a trade ... that had a 2.8% chance of winning. Cleveland now has two of the top 4 picks.
Ah, the Clippers. No matter what happens, no matter the circumstances, they are and always will be who we thought they were. On the bright side, they got Mo Williams and Jamario Moon in the trade that sent that pick to Cleveland...
Chris' Playoff Lacktion Ledger: Nate Robinson obeyed his thirst for lacktivity by bricking thricely in 5:41 (twice from the JPMorgan Chase Tower) and taking a rejection for a +4!