By Dave Ivey, for NBA.com
THE FACTS: After a couple of near-misses in Oklahoma City, the Dallas Mavericks returned home and missed nearly everything in Game 3. Kevin Durant and the Thunder shoved the defending champs to the brink of elimination Thursday, seizing a 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven first-round series with a lopsided 95-79 victory at the American Airlines Center.
Durant scored 21 of his 31 points in the first half, Russell Westbrook had 20 and Serge Ibaka added 10 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. James Harden and Derek Fisher each scored 10 points off the bench. An efficient Oklahoma City offense turned the ball over just eight times and an aggressive Thunder defense registered 11 steals and seven blocks.
Dallas committed 16 turnovers and shot just 34 percent from the field. Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 17 points. Jason Kidd (12) and Jason Terry (11) were the only other players in double figures. The series resumes Saturday with Game 4 in Dallas. No team in NBA history has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit. The Mavericks have never been swept in a postseason series.
QUOTABLE: "Defensively we did probably as well as we could possibly do against a very good offensive team that really moves the basketball very well."
-- Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks.
THE STAT: Oklahoma City shot 43 percent (12-for-28) from 3-point range, compared to 32 percent (7-for-22) by Dallas. Leading the long-distance barrage for the Thunder were Durant (4-for-6), Daequan Cook (3-for-6), Fisher (2-for-4) and Westbrook (2-for-5).
TURNING POINT: The older Mavericks expended a ton of energy coming back from a 15-point hole in the first quarter and another 15-point deficit in the second quarter, but they were out of gas and out of answers when Oklahoma City used a 16-5 run in the third quarter to expand its lead to 66-50. Westbrook scored nine of his 11 third-quarter points during that surge.
QUOTABLE II: "Our goal was to come out swinging, create energy and get the building going. ... It wasn't the way we wanted to start the game. Give them credit. They threw a heck of a game at us. ... We picked a bad time to put a stinker out there."
HOT: After shooting 15-for-44 from the field in the first two games, Durant was 11-for-15 in Game 3. The three-time NBA scoring champion was particularly sharp from the perimeter, swishing fadeaways and pull-up jumpers from 15-25 feet practically whenever he wanted.
NOT: The Mavericks were 4-for-16 in the second quarter and 4-for-18 in the third, finishing that frigid and forgettable 24-minute stretch with more turnovers (10) than field goals (eight). ... Shawn Marion had a team-high 10 rebounds, but missed his first seven shots and finished 1-for-8.
GOOD MOVE: Oklahoma City did a commendable job of keeping the ball out of Nowitzki's hands and limiting his offensive impact. His dunk at the 9:01 mark of the fourth quarter was his first bucket since there was 2:01 remaining in the first half, a field-goal drought of 17 minutes on the game clock.
BAD MOVE: Terry foolishly attempted to sneak a layup past Ibaka's reach with 8:14 remaining in the second quarter. The runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year swatted it harder than anything hit by Albert Pujols this season, about 10 rows deep.
INSIDE THE ARENA: Fans at the sold-out American Airlines Center arrived to find blue Mavericks T-Shirts draped over their seats, emblazoned with the battle cry "All In."
NOTABLE: The Mavs got whistled for four technical fouls in the game: Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle, Nowitzki, Delonte West and Brian Cardinal. ... Starting center Brendan Haywood was glued to the bench for the entire second half for Dallas. ... Dallas is 15-16 (.483) all time in elimination games. ... Durant and Westbrook have each scored 20-plus points in all three games of the series.
UP NEXT: Saturday, Game 4 @ Dallas; Monday, Game 5 @ Oklahoma City (if necessary).