Disclaimer- I write these recaps in real time, as the game is happening. Feel free to enjoy my insane mood swings.
Well. The first quarter was... awful. The Thunder could not miss, and the Mavericks could not make a basket, nor could they keep their hands on the ball. They had six turnovers, and the Thunder capitalized on just about all of them. Kevin Durant went 5-6 from the field, and the team as a whole made 15 of their 26 shots. The Mavericks, on the other hand, shot just 7 of 16. The offense received a shot of adrenaline when Jose Barea entered the game, and the Mavericks closed out the first period with momentum swinging slowly into their favor.
The second quarter started with a couple of quick fouls on the Thunder, and the Mavericks tried to chip away at the Thunder lead. What prevented them from doing so successfully was their inability to stop OKC's shots. It's a damn good thing that the Mavericks can make three pointers, because they could not play defense to save their lives. The only reason the score stayed reasonable was because Dirk wouldn't let it be otherwise. He hit a big three, then on the next play hit a turnaround fadeaway Dirk-jumper, then dished the rock to Brendan Haywood for a dunk.
The not-so-good story for the first half was really Dallas' inability to control the ball. Both teams were committing turnovers with equal reckless abandon, but the Thunder found ways to turn the Mavericks' mistakes into points (15, to be exact). The good story? Dirk freaking Nowitzki. He carried the team on his shoulders through the disaster that was the first half, and scored 22 points, going a perfect 9-9 from the line. He was, however, responsible for three of those terrible turnovers, so I guess even Dirk isn't perfect ALL the time.
Oh the third quarter. Tyson Chandler got a technical foul... based on the previous two he's gotten maybe this one will be rescinded, too. The Thunder continued their aggressive play around the basket, getting second chance baskets and hustle points galore. The thing that kept Dallas alive in THIS quarter (because it's all about surviving at this point) was their unselfishness. There were several plays, including a hustle put-back from Haywood, that only succeeded because the Mavs made the extra pass. They finished the quarter down by only four points.
And for the fourth
and final quarter, the Dallas Mavericks tried to come back using only three-point baskets. Obviously, the results were not what we, as fans, wanted them to be. Barea tried his darndest to create offense in the paint, and was mildly successful on several occasions, but it was simply too little, too late. They weren't trying hard enough, as was made apparent by the offensive rebounding. Oklahoma City pulled in 20, Dallas pulled in five. Not even close.
But wait. With just moments left in the game. Dirk Nowitzki decided he didn't want to go out with his tail between his legs, and he led the Mavericks in a 15-2 run to close within two. And when I say led, I mean he hit about four unpossible shots. And then, with a shot-clock left in the game, he drew the foul, waltzed to the line, and hit them both. To tie the game. Make that a 17-2 run. Shawn Marion blocked a silly shot by Kevin Durant and Jason Kidd grabbed the ball and immediately called time out. Guess what? We're headed to overtime.
A pair of free throws to start the extra period put the Mavericks ahead for the first time in the game. The teams traded baskets for the first four minutes of overtime, and they took a break tied at 105 with 1:15 left to play. Wouldn't you know it, Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd double-teamed Kevin Durant and forced the turnover. On the other end, Kidd (swoon) hit a three like it wasn't nothing. The Thunder couldn't finish the incredible game they started. Some free throws from both Jasons put the metaphorical nails in the coffin and the Mavericks will fly back to Dallas with one game standing between them and the Finals.
What an unbelievable display of courage and grit from a veteran team.