OKLAHOMA CITY – One of the cardinal sins in playoff basketball is committing a soft foul around the basket.
The Mavericks did that three times in the fourth quarter. Brandan Wright was benched after his pat on Russell Westbrook’s back led to an easy and-1 layup. Serge Ibaka had a couple of three-point plays during the Thunder’s rally from a seven-point deficit in the final 2:31, converting a layup despite an Ian Mahinmi foul and dunking on Dirk Nowitzki despite a slap on the wrist.
“We fouled, but we didn’t foul smart,” Nowitzki said. “That’s obviously not playoff basketball. We’ve got to wrap those guys up and make them earn it at the line. That’s what playoff basketball is about – both teams competing at the highest level and making hard, physical plays.”
Added coach Rick Carlisle: “In those situations, we can’t be in a touch-foul mode. We’ve got to either back off or we’ve got to take a hard foul and make them earn two free throws. That’s just playoff basketball.”