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Mavs' Preseason Win Over Thunder: 4 Big Observations

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the OKC Thunder in their preseason opener. Here are some observations from the performance.

TULSA — The Dallas Mavericks began their preseason schedule with a matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The end result was a 98-96 victory

The Mavs played without various key players in this game. Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Maxi Kleber did not travel with the team but are not injured. JaVale McGee (left ankle sprain) and Davis Bertans (right knee effusion) were sidelined with injuries. 

Both teams kept it close without there being a double-figure lead by either side at any point. Much of the Mavs' key players did not touch the court in the second half and even fewer spent time playing in the final period. 

Here are some key takeaways from the Mavs' preseason win over the Thunder. 

4. McKinley Wright IV Stepped Up

McKinley Wright IV, who is signed to a training camp deal, finished with eight points and 10 assists without a single turnover in 22 minutes. He also shot an efficient 3-6 from the floor. He was an efficient floor general who showed an ability to create.

“Coach had been harping all training camp and practice about how important it is to take care of the ball,” Wright said. “They brought me here and they want to see me get others involved and get in the paint and create for others, and I think that’s what I’m best at.

“It was easy for me tonight. Credit to my teammates making shots. Without them I wouldn’t have had 10 assists, so all the credit goes to them.”

The NBA preseason is a great opportunity for players like Wright to showcase their abilities to earn a contract. His decision to spend training camp with the Mavs instead of his other final consideration — the Charlotte Hornets — proved to be a good decision.

3. Some Preseason Sloppiness

The Mavs turned it over 24 times with 13 coming in the first half. Spencer Dinwiddie, Jaden Hardy, and Josh Green each finished with a team-high four turnovers while six players on the team overall tallied at least two. It'll be something that gets emphasized before the start of the regular season.

“I like the way we started the game,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “Sometimes it better to get the turnovers out in preseason. We had 24 of them, which is a lot for us.

“I like the way that group ended the game. As much as we practice – and they compete in practice — everybody is competing to win. I thought that group at the end did a really, really good job.”

It was a good first look for the Mavs at what things could look like when Doncic isn't available to play. Having a more efficient attack will be important to work towards in these situations. 

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2. The Christian Wood Experience

The Mavs' focus in the third quarter was to run the half-court offense through Wood. He scored 12 of his 16 points within the period and finished with 13 rebounds to go along with in 25 minutes. He remained on the bench for the fourth quarter. 

“I tried not to force things,” Wood said. “This is all so new to me. It’s a new team, so I’m just trying to figure out where to be offensively with these new guys.

“It took me awhile to get in rhythm, but once I found a rhythm thank God coach Kidd let me play a little bit more than I was supposed to today. But once I got into rhythm I think everything went well.”

The results from Wood were emblematic of the typical impact he tends to make. There are shortcomings on defense, but he has a special combination of skills offensively. His progression defensively will be something to monitor.

1. Jaden Hardy Got Hot

The fourth quarter featured Jaden Hardy when he scored 16 of the Mavs' final 22 points. He finished with a team-high 21 points while shooting 8-16 (50.0 percent) from the floor and 4-9 (44.4 percent) from beyond the arc.

“Once I get locked into a zone like that it’s hard to get me out of it,” Hardy said. “I’m just thinking that I’ve got it going, so I’m just thinking about making the right play. I’m just trying to make the right play, make the right read.”

There has been progression from Hardy since participating in Las Vegas Summer League and throughout training camp. The work that's been put in is apparent to the Mavs organization.

“It shows the work that (Hardy has) put in since summer league,” Kidd said. “He spends a lot of time in the gym.

“He’s coming back at night, he’s working — not just on the floor — but watching video. He wants to be good, he wants to play, he wants to participate, and again you can see that in tonight’s game.”

You can follow Grant Afseth on Twitter at @GrantAfseth.

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