Kevin Durant made a fading 15-footer over two defenders with a second left on the clock to give the Oklahoma City Thunder the 99-98 win over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of their first round series.
Durant was just 10-for-27 in the game and scored 25 points to go with six rebounds, four assists and four blocks.
The Thunder trailed 94-87 with 2:31 left in the game following a Dirk Nowitzki jumper. Nowitzki would score 11 of Dallas’ final 13 points in the game but once Kendrick Perkins switched on to him after this jumper, he would only score two more points. Nowitzki finished the game with 25 points.
Durant was struggling mightily from the field but found other ways to affect the game. He made a great pass inside to Serge Ibaka for an and-one finish with 1:47 left in the game that cut the score to 94-92.
On the next possession with Perkins bodying up hard on Nowitzki, Harden helped and stripped the ball from Nowitzki for a steal. Harden then found Durant filling the lane for the dunk to tie the game at 94 with 1:27 left.
The Thunder played great defense the following possession but the ball bounced the Mavericks’ way at the end of the shot clock and Ian Mahinmi got fouled and made two free throws to put the Mavericks back on top by two.
Scott Brooks called timeout with 1:02 left and the Thunder went to one of their best sets that they’ve run all year. Durant got into the paint and found Ibaka again for an and-one finish.
Nowitzki would finally get the best of Perkins on an up-and-under on the next possession but there was enough time left after Nowitzki’s free throws for Durant’s final heroics.
Durant was the MVP of the final minutes but it was a huge team effort for the Thunder to come back in this one.
They didn’t have enough defensive intensity in the first half and Russell Westbrook carried the offense and finished the game with 28 points and five assists.
Most importantly on Westbrook’s part was his defense on Jason Terry down the stretch. Terry had scored 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting in the game but did not score in the fourth quarter with Westbrook on him.
Ibaka was also great scoring 22 points in the game to go with six rebounds and five blocks and of course the clutch free throws and finishes down the stretch.
Things didn’t look good for the Thunder early in the fourth quarter. They were playing small with Durant at the four and they couldn’t protect the paint that way.
Harden helped lead the comeback too making seemingly every smart play including a few steals. He would finish with 19 points on just seven shots.
The Thunder showed in this game how they could let the Mavericks beat them and how they could beat the Mavericks. Perkins matched up with Nowitzki seems much better than Ibaka covering him and Westbrook did a fantastic job on Terry.
Dallas shot five more free throws than Oklahoma City in the game with Durant only shooting five and Westbrook just one.
Game 2 will be played Monday night at 9:30 p.m. EST.