The NBA will crown a new champion of the Association at the completion of the Finals next month, as the Dallas Mavericks; who won their first NBA Title last year; are heading home for the summer after just four Post Season contests, as the Oklahoma City Thunder swept their first round series Saturday night, with a 103-97 victory at the American Airlines Center. The Thunder entered the fourth quarter of this game trailing the Mavericks by 13 points; after a very close first half, but Kevin Durant tied the contest at 88-88 as he buried a 25 foot trey, with 6:05 left in the game. Oklahoma City would then go on an 8-3 run and the Mavericks were not able to regroup; ending a season that embittered many Dallas fans.
The Thunder shot 52% (39-75) with five players in double figures, as James Harden once again showed why he should be named NBA Sixth Player Of The Year, as he came off the bench with 29 points while Kevin Durant racked up a double-double including 24 points for the night.
Dirk Nowitzki scored a game high 34 points in his club’s final game of the season, however he got far too little support from the rest of the roster as Dallas shot only 41.8% (33-79) although they had a good night from outside the ar, as they shot 52.6% (10-19) from three-point range. That would not be enough to extend the series; as Dallas lost the first two games by a total of just four points, however Oklahoma City would win the final two games of the match-up by larger margins.
Veteran guard Derek Fisher connected on an outside jumper with 47 seconds remaining in the opening period and the Thunder would be on top at the conclusion of the quarter 26-24. Oklahoma City appeared as if they were ready to run away with the game early in the second when they grabbed a seven point lead, however Dallas would grab the edge at 38-37 as center Ian Mahinmi drove the lane, putting the rock through the hole with 4:46 in the quarter. The two teams traded the advantage back and forth for the rest of the period and when the game reached the half the score was knotted up at 47-47.
The Mavericks would make what turned out to be their final run of the season, as they dominated the third. Delonte West drained a 22 foot trey with 30 seconds on the clock and the Dallas fans were on their feet cheering at the end of the period as their team was on top 81-68. That would be the team’s final moments of glory for the campaign, as the Thunder came back grabbed the win in the final period
Harden scored 29 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and a block while Durant had 24 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks. Russell Westbrook and Fisher both added 12 points while Serge Ibaka chipped in 10 points for the night.
Nowitzki knocked down 34 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal while Jason Kidd had 16 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, a block and a steal. Jason Terry would score 11 points while Brandan Wright came off the bench with 10 points. The Thunder will match-up in the second round with the winner of the Lakers and Nuggets series, with Los Angeles holding a 2-1 edge.