- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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OKLAHOMA CITY – If you want to put a positive spin on it, you could point out that the Denver Nuggets are the only team to hold Kevin Durant to a lower field goal percentage than the Mavericks among teams that have faced the NBA’s scoring leader twice this season.
Too bad for the Mavs that Durant has averaged more points against them (46.0) than any other foe this season.
Strange but true: Durant’s scoring average against the Mavs is higher than his field goal percentage (44.1) from those two games. That’s in large part because he’s gotten to the free throw line an awful lot and hasn’t missed, making all 31 of his attempts, including 21-of-21 during his career-high 52-point performance in Dallas last month.
Some of those whistles left the Mavs muttering. Shawn Marion’s take that it’s hard to win playing 5-on-8 cost him $25,000.
Nevertheless, the Mavs must try to continue making it hard for Durant to get good looks, just with a lot less contract. That, of course, is a lot easier said than done against a freakishly talented 24-year-old who can join Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in league history to lead the league in scoring at least four straight seasons if Durant stays in the top spot this year.
“We’ve got to do a better job of team support,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’ve got to be in better position to help early and make him play in a crowd with our hands up, without reaching in and putting him on the free throw line. Because he’s like Dirk – he’ll stand out there and make 25 in a row and won’t even blink.
“It’s a challenging task without question and we have to do better than we did the last game.”