Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Mavs 121, Thunder 112
By Tim MacMahon
How it happened: Even by Dirk Nowitzki’s Hall of Fame standards, he produced an epic playoff performance.
Nowitzki lit up the Thunder for 48 points, the sixth time in his career he’s scored at least 40 in a playoff game. He’s never done it more efficiently, making 12-of-15 shots from the floor and all 24 free throws he attempted, a playoff record for free throws without a miss.
Dirk was especially dominant during the third quarter, when he scored 17 points while the Mavs stretched their lead to double digits.
At least six Oklahoma City players took turns defending Dirk. None of them managed to slow down the Mavs' MVP, who dropped a franchise-playoff-record 50 points on Phoenix the last time Dallas played a home game in a Western Conference finals series.
A Thunder run keyed by Kevin Durant, who finished with 40 points on 10-of-18 shooting, made the Mavs sweat a little down the stretch. But the outcome was never really in doubt.
Dirk’s co-stars in this win came off the bench. Jason Terry scored 24 points. J.J. Barea added 21, a stark contrast to the entire Oklahoma City bench that managed to score only 22 points.
What it means: The rest vs. rust debate can be put to rest. As was the case in the finale of the sweep over the Lakers more than a week ago, the Mavs were an efficient offensive machine. They seized control of the West finals against their young foe with a convincing Game 1 win. Teams that win the opener have won 79.6 percent of the series in NBA history.
Play of the game:Jason Kidd rebounded a Durant miss and threw a three-quarters-court outlet pass to Shawn Marion, who fed Nowitzki streaking down the lane for an and-1 layup. That gave the Mavs the lead for good with 2:19 remaining in the second quarter and was part of a 16-3 run to finish the half.
Stat of the night: The Mavericks are 17-0 this season when Nowitzki attempts at least 10 free throws, including 5-0 in the playoffs. He was 24-of-24 from the line in Game 1. He was 13-of-13 in the third quarter, which matched Michael Jordan’s playoff record for free throws made in a quarter. It’s the second time this postseason Nowitzki matched that record, as he went 13-of-13 from the line in the fourth quarter of the series opener against Portland.