|LeBron James may not have gotten satisfaction beating the Mavs for the second time since the Finals, but he got the W all the same. (Getty Images)|
|LeBron James and the Miami Heat||James was engaged Thursday night and when he is, the Heat are tough to stop. Even with a 2-5 4-point fourth quarter, James was dominant, distributing, finishing, and overwhelming the Mavericks physically. On a key play, James missed a transition layup but stayed with it, shoving Dirk Nowitzki out of the way and finishing at the rim. For as bad as James and the Heat looked Sunday vs. OKC, they looked just as good here in getting their first home win over the Mavericks since 2004. |
|Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder||This is mostly a C for the first half and an A for the second half. The Thunder turned on the jets in the third quarter and wound up making 6 of 10 shots between the rim and the three-point line in that quarter. Russell Westbrook was downright superb, absolutely slicing and dicing and the results were devastating defensively for OKC. When the Lakers peeled back to try and stop Westbrook's drive, he carved them from mid-range. And if he's hitting from mid-range, that's like cutting the artery in the defense's leg. It's over.|
|Brandan Wright||The Mavericks spark plug has been phenomenal this season and with 11 points in 28 minutes on 5-8 shooting, three rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 assists, it was another sign that Wright is ready to contribute for the Mavs. But Wright was also a big part of the defensive lapses that resulted in so many open looks at the rim for the Mavericks. some of that is scheme, with the Mavs set to focus exhaustively on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the perimeter. But the responsibility remains for Wright to compensate, especially on nights where Dirk Nowitzki's defensive effort is... not at the highest level as it wasn't on Thursday.|
|Mike Brown||Against the Grizzlies earlier in the week, Mike Brown played Kobe Bryant to start the fourth quarter, a deviation from his usual rest to start the period. Then, as the game got tight, he benched him. On Thursday, he rested Bryant, but the result was somehow worse. Brown used a lineup of Steve Blake, Metta World Peace, Matt Barnes, Josh McRoberts, and Pau Gasol and all of a sudden any chance of a comeback was over.|
Worse, Brown is still unable to curtail any element of Kobe Bryant's shooting decisions. The Lakers took 16 shots at the rim in the first quarter. They took seven in the third. Brown had no counter to the adjustments Scott Brooks made and it showed. The heat intensifies.
|Pau Gasol||People will turn to the foul trouble, but Gasol was overwhelmed by the Thunder's intensity in the second half and woefully unprepared to attack defensively. He was a liability for the Lakers on Thursday.|