The Thunder eventually beat the beleaguered Mavericks 109-98, but it was quite a costly victory for them: Enes Kanter, mired in frustration, punched a bench chair which resulted in a fractured forearm.
As Kanter tried to punch the padding on the chair, the seat tilted forward, exposing the hard metal underneath. He knew immediately that something was wrong:
It’s an unfortunate injury to say the least. Enes Kanter had been the league’s preeminent sixth man candidate; Now, Kanter is expected to miss up to two months. Kanter’s bench play had been phenomenal in the past few months.At Billy Donovan will have to try to find a way to get the bench unit some scoring.
“He didn’t mean to do it, obviously,” his teammate Steven Adams said. “It’s just one of those frustrating times where it just happened to like–he did what he did, you know. He’s already hard on himself. No one else can be as hard as he is on himself. He’s probably just feeling so under the weather. I feel bad for him.”
Russell Westbrook scored a game-high 45 points, with 30 of them coming in the second half. Westbrook also added eight boards and three assists. And for Westbrook, it was a hyper-efficient effort, taking only 29 shots and draining 16 of them. Westbrook also got to the foul line 11 times–just two fewer than the entire Mavericks team.
A sluggish start (the Mavericks led 55-53 at the intermission) was countered by a furious third quarter that stood in stark contrast to the Thunder’s previous two third quarter efforts. An 11-4 run by the Thunder quickly turned the tide in OKC’s favor. The Thunder ended the third period outscoring the Mavs 34-18.
Despite the Mavs missing three guards and Dirk Nowitzki, they, to their credit, found a way to stay in the game, even after a demoralizing third period.
The Thunder had their requisite second half meltdown–that is, until Westbrook saved the day. A 16 point lead quickly shrunk to 6 before Westbrook checked into the. He changed that pretty quickly.
“I could tell in the timeout that he felt like he was getting ready to kind of explode, to be honest with you,” head coach Billy Donovan said.
‘Explode’ is a pretty good word for it. Westbrook scored 17 points (including hitting 3 three-pointers) in the final quarter to put the Mavericks away for good.
Now, with only two games to go in the month of January (albeit against the Cavs and Spurs), the Thunder have almost survived January. Even if they drop the next two games, they can hang their hat on going .500 in the most difficult month of their schedule.
Victor Oladipo scored 17 points, adding three rebounds, assists, and steals apiece. Steven Adams scored 15 and nabbed eight rebounds.
For the Mavericks, Warriors transplant Harrison Barnes led the way with 31 points. Justin Anderson provided a huge spark off of the bench that the Thunder struggled to contain, scoring 17 and adding five rebounds.
The Thunder improve to 28-19, while the Mavericks fall to 16-30. Next up for Oklahoma City: they travel to Cleveland to take on the struggling Cavaliers. Tipoff is at 2:30 CST on Sunday.