Russell Westbrook finally had his moments. Serge Ibaka had a stretch of dominance. But with 1.4 seconds on the clock, Kevin Durant stole the show and added another highlight to his legend in Oklahoma City.
With the Thunder down a point, Durant curled around a screen and nailed a long three-pointer at the buzzer to give OKC a 104-102 win over the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. The shot answered a long three-pointer by Dallas’ Vince Carter that stunned the crowd and gave the Mavericks a late lead. The Thunder were a point behind and only a prayer left, but Durant has a way of coming through in those clutch situations. KD let his teammates have their time, he let the Mavericks think they were going to steal a win, then he pulled the rug out on the Mavs to keep the Thunder undefeated and the Mavs winless.
The shot gave Durant 30 points, putting him over 30 for all four games this season. He added 11 boards and six assists.
Until the last two minutes, the game looked to be a story about Russell Westbrook coming out of his slump. For three and half quarters the living hell of Russell Westbrook’s season continued. Missed shots, turnovers and charging fouls all left him slumped on the end of the bench. Then with one fast-break dunk, the heavens opened. Westbrook took a foul on one arm and still elevated to finish with a dunk to give the Thunder a 93-91 lead and his season the kick-start it needed. In the last 3:17, Westbrook hit three out of four shots, pulled down a rebound and hit a free throw. The pressure seemed to release and send everything back to normal for the all-star point guard. Westbrook finished with 16 points, four assists and two steas. If not for Durant’s miracle at the buzzer, the story of this game would be Westbrook’s late dominance and his return to the good graces of the Thunder fans.
Ibaka also has had a slow start to the season, but came alive in this game after a scuffle with Carter resulted in double technical fouls with 7:44 left in the game. Ibaka came out of that and blocked a Dallas shot out of bounds, hit a 17-footer and a free throw to help the Thunder to a late three-point lead. He finished with 16 points, eight boards and three blocks, his best numbers of the season.
The Thunder move to 4-0 on the season going into a home New Years Eve game against the Phoenix Suns. The defending champ Mavs are 0-3.
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