Sunday, May 29, 2011

NBA West final recap: Game 4 - Mavs over Thunder again, this time in OT 112-105 in OKC no less

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Mavs come from 15 down, stun Thunder 112-105 in OT
Posted May 24 2011 11:36AM

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) A decade's worth of playoff experience has taught Dirk Nowitzki plenty about hardship. Jason Kidd knows it well, too.

Now, it's starting to look as if the tide has turned for the Dallas Mavericks.
Nowitzki scored 40 points, Kidd hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 40 seconds left in overtime and the Mavericks rallied from a 15-point deficit in the final 5 minutes of regulation to stun the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-105 on Monday night and take a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference finals.

"It's just a bunch of veterans with a lot of unique stories. A lot of guys have been through a lot in this league and have been around forever," Nowitzki said. "A bunch of guys have been to the finals. ... Ultimately, we have one goal and we came together and fought through some stuff."

Already with an improbable sweep over the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers under their belts, the Mavericks came back from a 99-84 deficit with 5 minutes left in regulation to move within one win of the NBA finals.

They handed the Thunder their first consecutive losses of the postseason and first back-to-back home losses in six months to earn a chance to clinch the series on their home court in Game 5 Wednesday night in Dallas.

"We worked really hard these two games to win, and none of that guarantees anything for Game 5. We know that," said coach Rick Carlisle.

The Mavs have won at least 50 games in 11 straight seasons with no titles and only one trip to the NBA finals to show for it.

"All of us involved with this team have been through a lot of these wars," Carlisle added. "We understand our position that we're in. We respect it. We're very humble about it. We've got to get ourselves revved up and ready for Wednesday, because that's an opportunity."

Dallas didn't lead until Nowitzki hit two free throws 16 seconds into overtime, and the Mavericks never let the Thunder - who were one win shy of tying an NBA record with eight OT wins in the regular season - go ahead after that.

Kevin Durant, the league's scoring champion the past two seasons, missed a 3-point attempt on Oklahoma City's opening possession of overtime, then didn't get another shot until he missed from long range off the front of the rim in the final 10 seconds with the Thunder down by five.

Durant finished with 29 points and 15 rebounds, and Serge Ibaka had 18 points and 10 boards for Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook added 19 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

Only two teams in NBA history have come back from 3-1 deficits without the benefit of home-court advantage in Game 7 - Houston in the 1995 West semifinals and Boston in the 1968 East finals.

"There's no doubt it was a tough loss," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "If this loss did not hurt, there's no such thing as a loss that can hurt you."

Durant said all the Thunder can do now is try to be positive.

"It's not over yet," he said. "We know we have a game on Wednesday. We've won in there before, so we've got to try to do it again."

Durant had nine of the Thunder's 26 turnovers, including the one that led to the big shot by Kidd. Kidd stripped him as he went up for a shot with just over a minute left in overtime, then took a pass from Nowitzki, pump-faked to get Westbrook in the air and stepped up to drill a 3-pointer that put Dallas up 108-105 with 40.3 seconds left.
Jason Terry hit two free throws for the last of his 20 points, and Kidd added two more to provide the final margin.

Kidd - who went to the NBA finals twice with New Jersey but is still seeking his first ring at age 38 - scored 17 points to go with seven assists, five rebounds and four steals.

"Everybody asks questions about the age and all that other stuff," Carlisle said, "but the thing I'd say to anybody is, `Never underestimate greatness."'

The Mavericks also know better than to underestimate any opponent in any circumstances.
"I think they're going to come back in Game 5 and going to throw everything at us. Obviously they're desperate now," said Nowitzki, who still laments how Dallas won twice to start the 2006 finals then lost four in a row to Miami.

"But they showed they can win on our home court - they stole Game 2 there - so you know they are still confident. We've got to take it. Nothing is going to be given to you in this league, especially not in the playoffs."

The Thunder learned that the hard way.

Durant acted as though he was slapping on a pro wrestling championship belt after his 3-pointer finished Oklahoma City's second 7-0 run of the fourth quarter to make it 99-84 with 5:06 remaining. He hadn't won anything yet, though.

James Harden fouled out 32 seconds later, robbing the Thunder of their third-best offensive player. Westbrook had the only basket for the team's All-Star tandem over the final 10 minutes while Nowitzki took charge.

"It was almost over," Nowitzki said. "If we mess up one more time or give up one more offensive rebound, that would have been the game. So we couldn't afford any mistakes down the stretch and ... we were almost perfect."

The big German scored 12 points during the Mavs' 17-2 run and got fouled by Nick Collison before hitting both free throws to tie it at 101 with 6.4 seconds left.
Shawn Marion blocked Durant's 3-point attempt at least 30 feet from the basket with 2 seconds left, and the Mavs couldn't convert a chance at the win when Kidd's inbound lob with 0.7 seconds to go hit the rim.

Oklahoma City came roaring out of the gates after trailing by as many as 17 points in the first quarter of Game 3. The Thunder hit their first nine shots and took an 18-8 lead after Durant caught a deflected inbound pass and zoomed in for a right-handed jam.
They never quite could shake Dallas, though. The Mavericks were still within five at halftime and trailed 79-77 in the final minute of the third quarter.

"It goes without saying that it was a tough loss to accept," Brooks said, "but it is a loss and we have to learn from it."

Notes: Mavs C Tyson Chandler was called for a technical foul in the third quarter. The NBA rescinded Chandler's first two technicals in this series, so his postseason count is currently at four - three shy of what's needed for a one-game suspension. Westbrook has five. ... Dallas was the only visiting team to win twice in the regular season at the Oklahoma City Arena, where the Thunder were 30-11. The Mavs are 4-0 in the building in the regular season and playoffs. ... Brooks, facing repeated questions about his starting lineup, says he's sticking with it. "We're a young team," he said, "and if you give a young team instability, you're going to get very inconsistent results."

Mavericks-Thunder notebook

By Randy Renner, for
Posted Tuesday May 24, 2011 1:36AM

THE FACTS: The Dallas Mavericks used an amazing performance by Dirk Nowitzki coming down the stretch to rally from 15 points down to force overtime and beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-105 in a thrilling Western Conference finals Game 4. The Mavs now take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series, which shifts to Dallas for Wednesday night's game. Oklahoma City managed to score only six points in the last five minutes of regulation and the overtime period. Nowitzki looked like a circus act or a member of the Harlem Globetrotters during a 17-2 Mavs run to tie the game and send it into overtime. Nowitzki hit a jumper off of one leg falling backwards and another while he was falling down. He scored 12 points during the spurt to tie the game and finished with 40. Jason Terry added 20 for Dallas and Jason Kidd dropped in 17.

Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 29 points and 15 rebounds, but he also turned the ball over nine times. The Thunder had 25 turnovers for the game. That offset what was a dominating night on the boards for OKC. The Thunder out-rebounded Dallas 55-33 and 20-5 on the offensive glass. Russell Westbrook had 19 points, eight assists and eight rebounds. Serge Ibaka had his best game of the series with 18 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.

QUOTABLE: "It was all about getting stops at the end. This team has been a resourceful group and extremely opportunistic. The way they hung in there was fantastic."
-- Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle

THE STAT: In the last five minutes of regulation Oklahoma City was just 1-for-9 from the field and 0-for-2 at the free throw line. The Thunder also turned it over twice. The Mavs meanwhile were 4-for-5 and 6-for-8 at the line.

QUOTABLE II: "This is a tough loss to accept but we have to learn from it. Our guys played hard but we struggled down the stretch. Now we have to focus on one game. It's a tough loss for the players, the coaches, the organization and the fans. We have to execute better. The turnovers really bothered us, just way too many."
--Thunder head coach Scott Brooks

TURNING POINT: The Thunder seemed to have the game all but put on ice leading by 15 points (99-84) with less than five minutes to play. But Thunder shooting guard James Harden fouled out and OKC could manage only two points the rest of regulation. The Mavs, meanwhile, put up 17 to tie the game in the last seconds.

QUOTABLE III: "We worked really hard to get these two wins here. Now we've gotta get rested up and ready for Wednesday. Our building needs to be really loud. It's got to be like it was here. These fans are beyond belief here."

HOT: In the first five minutes of the game, Durant was 5-for-5 for 10 points. ... After scoring just 12 points in the entire first quarter of Game 3, OKC had 26 points in the first nine minutes of Game 4 on 13-for-18 shooting (72.2 percent). ... By halftime Oklahoma City had cooled off a little but was still shooting 58.3 percent. ... Durant was 6-for-8, Ibaka was 4-for-6 and Nick Collison was 3-for4...The Mavs were above 50% too, 17-for-31 (54.8). ... Nowitzki had 22 points on 6-for-7 shooting and 9-for-9 on free throws. ... Kidd was 3-for-3. ... Nowitzki finished 12-for-20 for 40 points. ... Collison was 5-for-7 and Thabo Sefolosha ended with 12 points on 6-for-10 shooting.

NOT: In the first quarter, the Terry was 0-for-3. ... After scoring 18 points in Game 3, Shawn Marion had just seven points on 1-for-5 shooting. ... DeShawn Stevenson had just 3 points on 1-for-5.

INSIDE THE ARENA: Thunder fans were once again decked out in blue. 18,203 blue tee-shirts were distributed to the crowd before the game. NBA "Superfan" James Goldstein was back in OKC Arena. Goldstein hasn't missed a Thunder home playoff game.

GOOD MOVE: Coming out of a Dallas timeout, OKC's Westbrook jumps the inbounds pass, steals it and races away down court for an uncontested slam.

GOOD MOVE TOO: Moments later Thunder guard Sefolosha bats a Dallas inbounds pass up and into the hands of Thunder forward Durant. Durant cuts between two Mavs defenders gets to the rim and slams it home.

GOOD MOVE III: In the third quarter, Nowitzki took a pass at the free throw line, dribbled and drove on Thunder forward Serge Ibaka. With Ibaka almost attached to his hip, Dirk drove to the basket and scored.

NOTABLE: The Mavs have now won nine of their last 10 playoff games. Oklahoma City loses back-to-back home games for the first time all season.

UP NEXT: Game 5 of the Western Conference finals is set for Wednesday night in Dallas. Tip-off will be at 9 p.m. ET from American Airlines Center, and you can see the action on ESPN.

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