OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – With Oklahoma City down a superstar and a second starter, the Thunder’s other two superstars pushed aside the Dallas Mavericks.
Paul George scored 37 points, Russell Westbrook added 27 points and the Thunder overcame the absence of Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams to beat the Mavericks 112-99 on Sunday night. George was 7 of 12 from 3-point range.
Anthony was ruled out about an hour before tipoff because of a sore lower back, and Adams, Oklahoma City’s starting center, sat out a second straight game with a right calf contusion.
Without Anthony, George and Westbrook carried the offensive load, fueling a 26-10 run in the third quarter that broke open what had been a tight game. Oklahoma City improved to 6-7, winning its second straight after four consecutive losses.
“I thought defensively, it was our best game from start to finish,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “I thought we played a complete game defensively.
“Offensively, I thought we turned it over too much in the first half . but in the second half, offensively and defensively, we played really, really well. To come out and play the way they did, being down two starters, I thought they did a great job, all the way through, from top to bottom.”
Harrison Barnes had 22 points and 13 rebounds, and Yogi Ferrell had 18 points for the Mavericks. They have dropped nine of their last 10 games to fall to 2-12. Dallas is in a particularly tough portion of its schedule, having lost both ends of a back-to-back against Cleveland and Oklahoma City, and with games against San Antonio and Minnesota looming.
Oklahoma City led 44-42 after a subpar offensive first half for both teams. Westbrook and George combined to go five of 18 from the field in the half, but combined to score 32 of the Thunder’s 39 points in the decisive third quarter.
With the game tied 48-48 in the third quarter, Westbrook scored on a drive, and then George blew by Dirk NowitzkI for a dunk that led to a Dallas timeout. That started the Thunder’s big run, which included three three-pointers by Westbrook and another by George.
Westbrook’s final three-pointer during that stretch put Oklahoma City up 74-58 with 3:35 left in the quarter.
George’s three-pointer with 11:25 left in the game pushed the Thunder’s advantage to 88-67.
He deflected much of the praise for the win to the Thunder’s younger players.
“We’ve got to be ready for anything,” George said. “When Steven went down, Dakari (Johnson) stepped up. Melo went down and it was a huge contribution from a bunch of guys. Josh (Huestis) stepped up, Jerami (Grant) stepped up. We’ve got to be that team.
“We’re fortunate to have two other guys who can take the (scoring) load, but it’s even better when we’ve got young guys who can step up and help the team.”