- Tim MacMahon, ESPNDallas.com
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The NBA’s leading scorer lit up the Mavs for 17 of his 31 points during a span of just more than five minutes in the fourth quarter, putting on a shot-creating clinic and pumping the Thunder’s lead up to six points with 4:15 remaining. The Mavs fought back to tie it up again, but Russell Westbrook’s pull-up jumper at the 1:00 mark gave OKC the lead for good.
The Mavs, who were missing defensive stopper Shawn Marion (calf) for the second consecutive game, did a terrific job defending Durant for the first three-plus quarters. But Durant dominated for a chunk of the fourth quarter.
Durant's go-ahead jumper with 9:28 remaining was his first basket of the second half. That started a scoring flurry over the next 5:13 that featured an and-1 drive, a contested 3, another drive for a layup, a floater in the lane, a pull-up 3 and a Dirk-esque, off-the-dribble, one-legged fadeaway.
Meanwhile, Dirk Nowitzki didn’t get a shot from the floor in the fourth quarter, despite 8-of-10 shooting in the first three frames. Nowitzki finished with 23 points, including the free throws that tied it up with a little more than a minute remaining.
Westbrook, who finished with 35 points on 13-of-23 shooting and six assists, carried Oklahoma City for most of the game.
The Mavs got 18 points from sixth man Vince Carter, including seven in the fourth quarter while the Mavs couldn’t figure out how to get their superstar the ball.
What it means: The Mavs fell to 31-35, putting them four games behind the eighth-place Los Angeles Lakers after L.A.'s win Sunday over the Sacramento Kings. The Mavs were swept in the season series by the Thunder and San Antonio Spurs, the two teams fighting for the West’s top seed, one of which would be waiting if the Mavs somehow manage to sneak into the playoffs. The Mavs will have to reach deep to muster energy Monday night, when they’ll be in Atlanta for their fourth game in five nights.
Play of the game: Phenomenal displays of athleticism on both ends of the floor in the matter of four seconds seconds gave the Thunder the lead in the final minute of the first half. Serge Ibaka swatted Darren Collison’s layup attempt off the glass to spark a fast break that Westbrook finished with an emphatic two-handed slam off a feed from Thabo Sefolosha.
Stat of the night: The Mavs are 1-11 against the Thunder since beating Oklahoma City in the 2011 Western Conference finals, including last season’s sweep in the first round of the playoffs. The Mavs have lost their last 10 games against the Thunder.
How it happened: The Dallas Mavericks survived a Kevin Durant scoring flurry, but they still couldn’t find a way to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder.