There were two ways to look at Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
The Mavericks, with about nine days off, could have come in rusty or fresh.
The Thunder, coming in after a seven-game series and just one day of rest, might be tired or use the momentum of beating Memphis in the conference semifinals.
Whap happened? The Mavericks looked fresh -- though there were some sloppy moments -- in a 121-112 victory Tuesday night. Dirk Nowitzki was unreal, scoring 48 points on 12-of-15 shooting from the field and setting an NBA record by going a perfect 24-of-24 from the foul line.
"Mixture of rest and competitive play," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "We just kept talking about how it was going to be good for us. I wasn't worried about the rest. When you go nine days without playing a game, I worry about concentration slippage in some areas. We had a little bit of that, and we're going to have to get that cleaned up for Game 2."
The good was the Mavericks shot 53.4 percent from the floor, Nowitzki's performance and Jason Terry's play. Terry contributed 24 points off the bench. Jason Kidd, at 38, added 11 assists, and J.J. Barea scored 21 points off the bench.
The bad came in the form of 28 personal fouls called and the inability to contain Kevin Durant, who scored 40 points. The Mavericks were also sloppy with the basketball, committing 13 turnovers that resulted in 12 points for the Thunder.
But Oklahoma City did their part to lose this game.
Russell Westbrook struggled badly from the field. He missed 12 of 15 shots from the field and had more turnovers (four) than made field goals (three). Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka struggled to cover Nowitzki. He ended up with five fouls. And Nick Collison, who also covered Nowitzki, was whistled four fouls.
The Mavericks held a 16-point fourth quarter lead, but it was cut to six with 2:53 to play. Dallas went on a 6-0 run to put the game out of reach when Nowitzki made a 16-footer to push the lead to 114-104.
Did the short turnaround between games hurt the Thunder down the stretch?
"You can't blame an excuse on that," Westbrook said. "We had a chance to win the game towards the end of the game but we just weren't able to close it out."
"What you think?," Durant said. "Nah. I dont think so."