Final score: Mavs pull out must-win against Thunder, 128-119

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

32 points from Dirk Nowitzki including a big three in overtime gave Dallas a tough win at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The third time was the charm in overtime for the Dallas Mavericks.

After losing last Wednesday in OT against the Timberwolves, and Sunday against the Nets, the team's third overtime excursion of the season(and third in their last four games) gave them their first win, in a game given the dreaded designation of "must-win".

With Phoenix having won four straight to pull even in win-loss record and ahead in the standings by way of a tiebreaker, Dallas found themselves outside the top eight teams in the West yet again this season.  This win briefly puts them back in.

Dirk Nowitzki put up 32 points, the last of which came on a huge three to stretch the Dallas lead to eight in OT.  It wasn't the prettiest game for DIrk, who shot 11-23, turned the ball over six times, and continued his cold streak from deep(he's now 3-20 from behind the line in his last four games).

Also definitely worth mentioning is Jose Calderon, who poured in 22 points on 7-10 shooting, hitting 6 threes, including the shot of the night to tie the game at 111 with 26 seconds left.

Kevin Durant had a ho-hum 43 points, and continues his march toward Michael Jordan's record for consecutive 24 point games.

Dallas leapt out to a 10 point advantage early, at 23-13, as OKC started out cold shooting the ball.  After Dallas led 28-24 at the end of the first quarter, the Thunder caught fire in the second, and with under two minutes until halftime, the pendulum had swung to their favor, at 57-48.  Three straight threes(two from Carter) tied the game back up, and OKC held a 60-59 at the break.

It was a back and forth affair in the third quarter, with nine lead changes, culminating in an 89-84 lead for the visiting team entering the final frame.  Both offenses were humming with efficiency and the stage was set for a terrific finish.

In the fourth, Dallas led by seven with five minutes left after a tough fadeaway jumper by Monta Ellis.  Ellis, by the way, scored nearly half of his 17 in the fourth quarter, and continued his recent stretch of saving his best play for crunch time. The Thunder responded with a 17-7 run, and a Kevin Durant three with 39 seconds left un-tied the game at 111-108.

That set up the Calderon bomb after a hustle offensive rebound from Brandan Wright.  Russell Westbrook and Dirk Nowitzki missed on the last two attempts of regulation(Dirk's off-balance three nearly connected, and would have been easily the highlight of the season had it fallen), and so we went to extra time.

In OT, Dallas never trailed.  Though it was a long five minutes(thanks to incessant replays), it was not particularly tense.  A Dirk three made it eight with just under a minute left, and the free throw game sealed the deal.

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