The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-105 in overtime Monday night to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the NBA Western Conference Finals. Fueled by Dirk Nowtizki’s 12 points in the last four minutes, the Mavericks overcame a 15-point, 4th-quarter deficit to send it into overtime. The Mavericks never led in regulation.
Dirk led all scorers with 40 points on 12-for-20 shooting, Jason Kidd chipped in 17 including a huge three-point shot in overtime that put Dallas up for good, and Jason Terry added 20. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant cooled off after a hot start, ending with 29 on 9-for-22 shooting, Russ Westbrook had 19 while Serge Ibaka had 18.
There was never a minute of that game in which it seemed like the Mavs were going to pull it out, or come close to pulling it out. The first 48 minutes, anyway. In fact, until the mavericks forced overtime, the game was tied for a mere 17 seconds after Dirk answered Kendrick Perkins’ layup (the first shot of the game) and before Ibaka started an 8-0 run.
Terry spent this game showcasing everything that’s bad about his game — low basketball IQ, frustration fouls, dumb shots and drives — and yet he scored 20 points, had the highest +/- of anyone (presumably just because he was on the floor when Dirk went to work at the end, but still), and only turned it over three times.
What was no mirage, and shouldn’t have been survivable, was the rebounding. The Mavs got outrebounded by 22. The Thunder got 20 offensive boards and considering they shot a higher percentage than the Mavs, it’s really, really, really hard to figure out how the Mavericks pulled out a victory.
It looked bad all game. The Thunder came out on fire and stayed on fire. The Mavs hung around, as you knew they would. Seems like in certain recent years, whenever the Mavs lost they got blown out, but this year, it basically never happened. They lost by more than 10 point only twice, so no surprise there.
Dirk kept them in it with some great early shooting, but when Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle turned it over to the other guys, it’s a wonder they stayed close. Shawn Marion, fresh off a 20-point performance, went 1-for-5. Peja Stojakovic went 2-for-7, Jose Juan Barea 3-for-10, Terry 7-for-19, but somehow they did it. Somehow, the halftime lead was only five, and somehow the third quarter lead was only four.
The game appeared to be over when a Durant three-pointer gave the Thunder a 15-point lead with five minutes to go, but that’s when Dallas initiated a 17-2 run in which Dirk scored 12 of those points. For the game, Dirk shot only 7-for-21 from the field, but he still shooting 56% for the series and averaging 34 points a game. The Mavs became the first team in 15 years to win a playoff game after trailing by 15 or more with five minutes to go.