The Dallas Mavericks are heading back to the NBA Final for the first time since 2006 after another come from behind victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder coming back from a six point deficit with less than five minutes left in the game Wednesday night to win game five 100-96 as well as becoming the NBA Western Conference Champs for the season. Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion led the way for the Mavericks as each player had 26 points for the night. Russell Westbrook scored a game high 31 points while Kevin Durant and James Harden each added 23 points for the Thunder.
Oklahoma City had the physical talent to overtake the Mavericks in this series but they lacked the experience that they will need to get to the next level. The Thunder would once again control the contest for most of the night but as in game five they failed to hold the lead down the stretch and the Mavericks took both games and the series. Oklahoma City will spend all summer going over what they did wrong in the match-up and will come back a stronger and wiser team next October.
Both team came out shooting well in the opening period with the lead going back and forth throughout the first. Harden knocked down a running jumper with two seconds remaining giving the Thunder a 27-26 edge at the conclusion of the quarter. Oklahoma City appeared ready to bust the game open in the second as Harden hit a shot four feet from the basket with 3:26 left in the period putting his team on top 50-43. Jason Terry would drain a 26 foot trey down the stretch and as the game reached the half the Thunder’s lead was just 55-52.
The two opponents kept exchanging the lead for most of the third but Oklahoma City pulled away in the last few minutes of action and were back on top at the end the period with the score 76-72. With 5:48 on the clock in the fourth it looked like there would be a game six of the Western Conference Finals after Nick Collison slammed the rock through the hole putting the Thunder in the driver’s seat holding a 90-83 advantage. Unfortunately for Oklahoma City that was just about the moment the wheels fell off their “Playoff-Express” as the Mavericks started to make their run. Nowitzki buried a 25 foot trey with 1:15 left in the game giving Dallas the lead at 95-94 and they would retain the advantage for the rest of the game.
Nowitzki scored 26 points, 9 rebounds and 2 steals while Marion had 26 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks and 1 steal. Jose Juan Barea came off the bench with 14 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 1 steal while Jason Terry put up 12 points, 1 rebound and 1 steal.
Westbrook ended his season with a game high 31 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and a block while Durant had 23 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 block. Westbrook came off the bench with 23 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and a steal while Collison ended his season recording a double-double with 12 points, 12 boards, 2 blocks, 2 steals and 1 assist. Dallas now waits to find out whom they will play in the Finals. Miami leads Chicago 3-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals with game five in Chicago on Thursday.