For the second time this season, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant hit a game-winning shot in the final seconds of regulation to down the defending champion Dallas Mavericks 99-98.
With just 1.5 seconds left on the clock, Durant hit a running leaner over Mavericks defender Shawn Marion that bounced off the front of the rim and eventually dropped in, giving Oklahoma City the 99-98 lead. The Mavericks had no timeouts remaining and couldn’t push the ball up the court in time to attempt one final shot.
Kevin Durant wasn’t exactly having himself the strongest of offensive performances up until that point. He was shooting a miserable 9 for 26 from the field before attempting that final basket.
DURANT GETS HELP
K.D did hit the big shot at the end of the game to down Dallas, but it was the collective performances of 3 other teammates that really clinched this victory. James Harden, Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbrook combined for 69 of the Thunders 99 points.
Harden was extremely efficient getting to the free-throw line (9-10) and showed no effects of his elbow to the head from Lakers forward Metta World Peace last weekend.
Serge Ibaka had himself a big game on the defensive end, blocking 5 shots and grabbing 6 rebounds. He was no slouch shooting the ball either. He shot 75% from the field on route to 22 points.
Russell Westbrook had no problem getting by the point guards of the Mavericks on this night. He went 13 for 23 from the field, scored 28 points and dished out 5 assists.
THE CHAMPS WON’T BACK DOWN
I guess someone didn’t tell the Mavericks players that they weren’t supposed to be able to compete with the younger legs of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
They looked a lot like the team that went on to win the NBA championship in 2011 last night.
As expected, Dirk Nowitzki was the primary offensive weapon during the final moments of the game. He scored 11 of his team-high 25 points in the final 5 minutes to give Dallas a 92-85 lead with 3 minutes left on the clock.
Unfortunately for Dallas, that wasn’t enough to hold off the Thunder.
Jason Terry scored 20 points off the bench for the Mavericks, but didn’t hit any shots in the fourth quarter. Dallas will need Terry to be more productive down the stretch for the rest of this series, especially if he plays as well as he did in the first 3 quarters.
Vince Carter looked a lot like the Carter of old on this night. He was making drives to the basket, dunking the ball and hitting his open jumpers as he finished the game with 13 points off the bench for Dallas. With Lamar Odom M.I.A for the playoffs, the Mavericks will need Carter to be that second guy off the bench (behind Terry) to shoulder some of the scoring load for that secondary unit.
QUOTES OF THE GAME
”It’s tough. This is definitely as tough of a loss as you can get. But if a team can recover it, it’s an experienced one and we definitely have a lot of older guys who have been through a lot.” – Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki (yahoo sports)
‘It’s the playoffs. No matter how it gets done, you’ve got to do it.” – Thunder forward Kevin Durant (yahoo sports)
TWEET OF THE GAME
Kevin Durant is probably Thor. #GodOfThunder
— Travon Free (@Travon) April 29, 2012
– I realize that the Mavericks only had 1.5 seconds on the clock at the end of the game and were unable to move the ball to mid-court with a timeout, but Dallas forward Shawn Marion should have been more aware of the clock and made a better effort than that. Just throw it up and hope for the best. You just never know.
– The OKC Thunder fans are some of the best in all of professional sports. I suppose it’s easier when the Thunder are all they have as far as major league teams go. Regardless of that, the fan base for the Thunder consistently shows dedication to their basketball team regardless of the score. I can respect that. I wish more fans would emulate that trait.
Monday April 30, 8:30 p.m., TNT (OKC lead series 1-0)
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports