- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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How it happened: Dallas left no doubt during its first victory in Oklahoma City since the epic Game 4 comeback in the 2011 Western Conference finals.
This might have been the Mavs’ best all-around performance of the season. Dallas shot 53.3 percent from the floor, made 13 of 24 3-point attempts and had eight players score at least eight points. The Mavs also held the Thunder, one of the league’s most potent offensive teams even with their explosive point guard in street clothes, to 36.7 percent shooting.
MVP candidate Kevin Durant led all scorers with 30 points, but he wasn’t as efficient as usual, going 8-of-20 from the floor. Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson were the only other Oklahoma City players to score in double figures.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks waved the white flag midway through the fourth quarter, going deep into the bench with the Mavs leading by 23 points. The Mavs had the luxury of resting their starters down the stretch on the front end of a back-to-back, with Dirk Nowitzki (17 points) playing only 30 minutes.
What it means: It’s proof that the Mavs can actually beat the Thunder, snapping Dallas’ 11-game losing streak (including the 2012 playoffs) to its Red River neighbors. This outcome also makes another Thunder-Mavs playoff series a little more likely. The Mavs (40-27) created a half-game cushion over the Memphis Grizzlies for seventh place in the West. Dallas also is only a game behind the sixth-place Golden State Warriors, having made up two games since last week’s loss in Oakland. In the fight for the West’s top seed, the Thunder (48-18) fell two games behind the San Antonio Spurs pending the outcome of the Spurs-Jazz game.
Play of the game: Is Devin Harris even capable of overthrowing a lob pass to Brandan Wright? It certainly didn’t seem like it when Wright soared near the top of the backboard to catch a wild alley-oop from Harris late in the third quarter, throwing it down with his left hand to stretch the Mavs’ lead to 21. Harris was driving on the right side of the lane when he floated up the one-handed, off-balance lob on the other side of the rim. Wright’s catch was ridiculous on its own. To throw it down in the same motion made this one of the prettiest plays of the Mavs’ season.
Stat of the night: With a 3-pointer late in the third quarter, Carter became the 27th player in NBA history to score 23,000 career points.