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What We Learned From The Mavericks Loss To The Thunder

1. Delonte West was absolute nails for the Mavericks to start the game and finished with 15 points, six assists and four rebounds. He's going to be a great asset to this team. His defensive intensity alone makes him a great fit and he also brings the ability to run the offense and hit shots. He's going to be a joy to watch this season.

2.The Mavericks' patented ball movement finally made an appearance on Thursday. It's such a beautiful thing to watch. On one position Marion started with the ball and then passed it to Kidd who immediately swung it to Dirk who found Terry in the corner for an open three.

Bang, bang, bang, swish.

And of course, Dirk and JET were Dirk and JET. In the fourth quarter it was the same two man game we've seen all these years. This is still a team that can compete with the elite teams in the West thanks in large part to their lethal ball movement. It's going to take some time for everybody to get their feet under them and a lot more conditioning but they'll get there.

3.Lamar Odom is not himself. He's in a funk and he still hasn't adjusted to this system. After running six straight years of the triangle offense in Los Angeles it was always going to take some time for Odom to acclimate to Carlisle's schemes and positioning on the floor but I did not expect him to look absolutely lost on the floor. His hesitancy on the offensive side has been problematic and has resulted in multiple turnovers for the Mavericks. He's also void of any and all confidence in his own offensive game. He went 2-11 from the floor on Thursday which brought his total to a ghastly 4-27 on the season. His defense hasn't been much better as he has been consistently late on rotations and has looked all out of sorts trying to adapt to the Mavericks' complicated zone defense. The Mavericks kept trying to pull away from the Thunder all game and would then be hit with runs from the Thunder of ten or more points. This happened three separate times on the night. Guess who was on the floor during all those runs?

Yep, Lamar Odom.

Rough start. But there's little doubt Odom will have a big role on this team this season and hopefully the turnaround starts Friday night against the Raptors.

4.Vince Carter deserves some props. Carter was brought in to be the starting shooting guard and for two games in a row has been relegated to the bench. He was brought in for his range and ability to create his own shot. He's created but hasn't finished so far but his three point shooting has been deadly through three games. Carter is 5-8 from behind the arc on the season and hit what should've been the game winning three with 1.4 seconds left. Dirk got the ball at the top of the key took two steps and the defense collapsed on him leaving Carter open and he drilled it.

If Carter is a complete failure at the two guard spot (I don't think he will be) at the very least it's nice to know you have a capable sharpshooter on the bench.

5.The center rotation worked for one night. The loss of Tyson Chandler has put the Mavericks in a center committee mode and the committee did their job. Haywood, Mahinmi and Williams combined for 19 points and only nine rebounds but had six massive offensive rebounds. Haywood in particular had a couple of crucial rebounds late in the fourth that allowed the Mavericks to remain in the game until Durant did Durant things. It's not going to be pretty but if the Mavericks are able to rotate fresh guys out there and have them provide relentless energy they could get by. Especially since we're going to be a lot of Odom/Dirk at the four/five once Odom snaps out of it.

They should have beaten the Western Conference favorites with virtually no presence from Lamar Odom. It's going to take a week or two before we know what they have but we got a glimpse of they could be and that's a pretty damn good basketball team.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.