Ram fans got a late night treat last night, as Eric Maynor, and NOT Russell Westbrook, closed out the Dalls Mavericks for the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first win of the Western Conference Finals series.
Maynor had the hot hand early, scoring 9 first half points in about as many minutes, and used solid point guard play to erase a Mavericks lead, sending the Thunder into the 2nd half up 2.
The story this morning however is in Thunder head Coach Scott Brook’s decision to stick with the hot hands (plural), in finishing out the fourth quarter with Kevin Durant and a group of backups, including Eric Maynor who finished the night with a game leading +18 while on the floor.
Thunder reserves Maynor (13 points), James Harden (23), Daequan Cook (8), and Nick Collison (6) teamed up with Durant to stretch the OKC lead and close out a road win against the hottest team in this year’s playoffs.
“We had a good start to the fourth quarter,” Durant said. “You can’t mess that chemistry up. Coach made a good decision by doing that.”
Oklahoma City starting point guard and 2011 All-Star Russell Westbrook wasn’t having a particularly bad game, scoring 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting, but Brooks, a former point guard with the Houston Rockets, opted for the hot reserves who had previously turned a first half deficit into a 5 point lead.
“I’ve done it a few times during the year,” Brooks said. “It doesn’t happen often. Russell is an incredible player. He’s our starting point guard. But we weren’t getting a lot of things done and his time was to come out. And I stayed with Eric. I thought Eric was terrific, handling the decisions on the court, and guys made big shots.
“I had that decision [whether or not to bring Westbrook back] for the last six or so minutes, but I thought … we were increasing the lead. We were making shots. I didn’t want to mess with the rhythm. I usually will sub him in. Very rarely have I ever done that since Russell has been here.
“It had nothing to do with Russell. Eric was playing good basketball, solid basketball for us, and we were increasing the lead.”
The 106-100 win ties the series at 1 heading into a 9PM tip this Saturday in Oklahoma City.
Check out the link below for Maynor’s post game thoughts on the win.