NEW YORK • Even though Oklahoma City Thunder have a team full of experienced players, this National Basketball Association league season they have had problems closing out games.
While playing without forward Kevin Durant is a factor, it is only one reason for fourth-quarter meltdowns.
When the Thunder took on the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, they once again were given the opportunity to fall apart and allow a team to steal victory.
We just hate to lose, knowing you had a chance to win. So we had to come out here from the tip and just play hard, trust one another, especially on the defensive end.
DION WAITERS, Thunder guard
But this time, they finally put the pieces of the puzzle together to pull out a 117-114 victory at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
"It's just buckling down," Thunder guard Dion Waiters said. "We just hate to lose, knowing you had a chance to win. So we had to come out here from the tip and just play hard, trust one another, especially on the defensive end."
Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook scored 31 points to lead six players in double figures. He shot 12 of 22 from the field to go along with 11 assists, seven turnovers and five steals.
Forward Serge Ibaka collected 16 points, nine rebounds and a key block in the win for the Thunder (8-6).
"I think we're moving closer and closer to, at least from an offensive standpoint, really moving the basketball," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. "I think we really found some scoring tonight. We had a lot of guys in double figures. The ball got from one side of the floor to the other. I thought we got really good contributions off the bench."
Deron Williams led the Mavericks (9-5) with 20 points and six assists. Wesley Matthews added 18 points while forward Dirk Nowitzki scored 11 points on five of seven shooting.
"I thought we were poor on defence the entire game," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "You give up 117 points. We've been giving up a 100 on average. It's just not getting it done. I think we lost some of our defensive edge."