Rapid Reaction: Thunder 102, Mavs 99

April, 30, 2012
4/30/12
11:37
PM CT


OKLAHOMA CITY -- How it happened: The Thunder, a bunch of kids who couldn’t close out a game against the Mavericks in last season’s West finals, slammed the door in the defending champions’ face again.

That has happened in all four of the Mavs’ trips to Oklahoma City this season. This was the most heated, heart-pumping game of them all.

A wild first half featured Dirk Nowitzki and Kendrick Perkins exchanging shoves and profane unpleasantries, a 19-3 run by the Thunder and a 17-4 response by the Mavs. That set up a thrilling back-and-forth second half.

It all came down to crunch time again.

Oklahoma City didn’t have a field goal for the final 4:52, but the Thunder pulled out the win with suffocating defense and perfect free throw shooting down the stretch. The Mavs scored only two points in the final 2:18. A pair of free throws by Kevin Durant gave Oklahoma City the lead for good with 50.4 seconds remaining, and James Harden protected the lead by going 4-of-4 from the line in the final minute.

Nowitzki had a spectacular performance, scoring 31 points on 10-of-19 shooting, highlighted by a 14-point second quarter. But the Thunder got another big game from Russell Westbrook (29 points, 10-of-21 shooting), 26 points from Durant despite a 5-of-17 shooting night and got surprise scoring contributions from veteran role players Perkins (13 points) and Derek Fisher (11 points).

What it means: The defending champions are in serious danger of having their repeat quest end in the first round. Oklahoma City has a 2-0 lead as the series heads south on Interstate 35.

Bold play of the game: Delonte West put Westbrook -- maybe the most athletic guard in the NBA -- on a poster with a left-handed dunk in transition traffic. West stripped Durant and outraced Durant and Harden down the floor before soaring over Westbrook for the slam. That gave the Mavs a 73-72 lead with 3:28 remaining in the third quarter.

Stat of the night: Jason Kidd became the fifth player in NBA history with 1,000 playoff points, rebounds and assists. Kidd, who has career postseason totals of 2,004 points, 1,004 rebounds and 1,227 assists, joined a club that includes Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Kobe Bryant is eight assists away.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Rick Carlisle

Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.

Galloway & Company: Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Mark Cuban talk

Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Marc Stein

Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: The Standoff

Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Ramona Shelburne

ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.

Fitzsimmons and Durrett: Buy or sell

Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Marc Stein

ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Dalembert 6.8
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.2