There was no way Dirk Nowitzki could have as good a game as he had on Tuesday, right? Well, somebody forgot to tell Dirk that. In the first few minutes, he tallied a Euro-leanback, a dunk and two free throws. Jason Kidd, who was semi-absent in game one, hit back-to-back threes, and then back-to-back alley-oops to Tyson Chandler. After a wild 10-0 run by the Mavericks, the Thunder needed a moment.
Kevin Durant took that moment and found some composure, and then posterized Brendan Haywood something fierce. He scored 14 points in the first quarter, with the rest of his team scoring just 12. For the Mavericks, their bench wasn't as much of an instant offense as it usually is, but they maintained the lead into the second quarter.
The beginning of the second quarter wasn't quite as smooth as the first. There were several fouls being called on the Mavs' big men, and the game turned in favor of the Thunder. Fortunately, the Mavericks have Jose Barea, who is coming to life in these playoffs. His speed and penetration sparked the offense, and Jason Terry joined in the fun to spur the Mavs back in front.
Dallas seemed to have difficulty preventing the Thunder's second chance points, and they were also unable to capitalize on their own offensive rebounds. They were able to keep it competitive by doing what they always do, which is sharing the ball and drawing fouls. However, the Mavericks went into the locker room down 59-57 after a 5-0 OKC run to close the quarter.
The second half started in the manner that we've come to expect- poor spacing, turnovers galore, and missed shots that shouldn't be missed. The Thunder extended their two-point lead to eight with no resistance from Dallas. Then the Mavericks remembered what got them this far- defense. DeShawn Stevenson harassed Kevin Durant and made him just uncomfortable enough to throw the offensive flow out of whack.
The Mavericks came back to take the lead thanks to some excellent passing and a nice assist from Chandler to Shawn Marion, but the lead only lasted briefly. Jason Terry fouled James Harden on a made three-point basket, and his extra point put OKC ahead by one to end the quarter.
The Mavericks have been winning their games in the fourth, and Dirk started this one off like that was his plan tonight. He hit a fadeaway and drove to the basket a few times after not having scored at all in the third quarter. Barea hit a couple of threes to keep it close, but Dallas could not find a way to deal with a surging James Harden and a supremely talented Kevin Durant.
With three minutes to play, the Mavericks were down by 10. Dirk Nowitzki decided he would turn on the afterburners and do what he usually does- close the game. Unfortunately, his first missed free throw of the game came on a three-point foul by Nick Collison. That left the Mavericks down four with under a minute to play. The Thunder couldn't create an offensive play and ran out of shot clock, but there just wasn't enough time left for the Mavericks to come back.
If you ask me, I'd tell you that the Thunder beat the Mavericks at their own game tonight. They had huge production from their bench, namely 23 points by James Harden, and 13 points by Eric Maynor. On the other hand, Barea was the high scorer off the Mavs' bench with 11. The Thunder shot 56% while Dallas only shot 44%. While the Mavericks had more three-point baskets (9) than the Thunder (7), it took OKC nine fewer shots to get there. Their efficiency exposed the lack of defense from the Mavericks, and this will need to be remedied before Saturday if the Mavericks hope to steal a game back on the road.