|Written by Michael|
Bet on the NBAIt was not an easy victory by any standard, but the Thunder evened their Western Conference Finals series against the Mavericks 106-100.
Both teams had double-digit leads at points during the game, with Dallas leading early and Oklahoma City battling back to swing the point total in the other direction. But in the end, the Thunder shot just better enough to earn them a win to tie the playoff series before the next two games on their home court.
This was a remarkable win, considering the defending NBA Champions did not win a single game against the Dallas Mavericks. But the law of averages says that the Mavs could not keep winning every single game on the way to an NBA Title. And the Thunder played well last night, even after being out of the game in the early going, allowing Dallas to take a 10-point lead. But by the fourth quarter, it was all Oklahoma City down the stretch.
James Harden ignited the late-game run for the Oklahoma City Thunder by making a three-pointer in the closing seconds of the third quarter and drawing the foul. After the rare four-point play, OKC was up by a point going into the final quarter. A few minutes later, the Thunder broke the game open and went on a 14-5 run to go up by ten points with 3:15 left on the clock. It was too great of a deficit for the Mavericks to overcome in the waning minutes of the game.
Both teams have heavily relied on their benches for their respective wins. In Game One, the Dallas bench outscored the Thunder 53-22. In Game Two, it was OKC's reserves that outscored the Mavericks 50-29. Harden was the centerpiece for the Thunder, making four of his five shots, including two three-point shots, just in the fourth quarter. He scored 23 points the entire game, and just took over in the final quarter for the Thunder.
Dirk Nowitzki was kept to a relatively silent 29 points, scoring only 13 through the first three quarters and only coming alive in the fourth quarter, putting in 16. He made 10-of-17 shots, and made 9-of-10 free throws. He had a good night by any standard, but his shots were more difficult and the Thunder forced him to turn the ball over, attacking and double-teaming him whenever the ball was in his hands.