Game Recap

5 Assists on the night for James Harden in addition to his 15 points and seven rebounds

9 Steals on the night by the Thunder, including three by James Harden

9-for-11 Shooting numbers for Kendrick Perkins and Derek Fisher combined for 24 points

10  Rebounds for Kevin Durant, a game high, and part of the Thunder's +2 rebounding advantage

16 Number of lead changes in the game, which also had 16 ties

21  Points off turnovers for the Thunder, which forced Dallas into 14 turnovers

29 Points for Russell Westbrook on 10-for-21 shooting

  37-for-39 Free throw shooting numbers for the Thunder on the night, all from four players (Durant, Westbrook, Harden and Perkins)

       
GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
A sea of white t-shirts in Chesapeake Energy Arena felt their nerves being twisted every which way, but in the final minutes of the Thunder's 102-99 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, the Thunder's defense held firm as it forced three straight missed shots to seal the win. Throughout the night the Thunder and Mavericks battled in the paint and on the wings, and despite a 16-point second quarter Thunder lead, the entire fourth quarter was played within a six-point spread.

Dirk Nowitzki was pressured into a missed fade-away jumper by Serge Ibaka, then defensive ace Thabo Sefolosha forced two missed three-pointers by Jason Terry to end the game. Head Coach Scott Brooks praised his team's mental toughness to withstand the Mavericks' run and the back-and-forth fight in the fourth quarter.

"That was a physical, intense, hard fought playoff basketball game," Brooks said. "I'm proud of our guys and the way they battled from the very start of the game… The last shot, I thought Thabo (Sefolosha) did a good job of contesting. They got the offensive rebound and we did another good job of contesting."

For the second consecutive game in this series, the all-around play of Russell Westbrook provided the steady hand that lead to victory. Whether it was blanketing Terry over the course of four quarters or pacing the Thunder with 29 points, Westbrook attacked when necessary, moved the ball to stretch Dallas' defense and fed his teammates in positions to get to the foul line. The overall maturity with which Westbrook played tonight was a sign of continued growth that Brooks enjoyed seeing.

"There's no question that Russell has developed from the day we drafted him through his hard effort and commitment that he puts into the team," Brooks said. "We're seeing it in front of our eyes. He's four years into this league and a two time All-Star at 23 years old. He's still going to challenge himself to get better... He's not a finished product."

Another sure-handed guard also made a major impact on the game, as Derek Fisher scored 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting while also snagging three rebounds and making a steal. His defensive pressure and quick hands helped the Thunder embark on a 19-3 run in the second quarter, and his corner three-pointer in the fourth quarter gave the Thunder a four-point edge, the largest either team held in the final 12 minutes. Forward Kevin Durant, who had 26 points thanks to 14-for-16 shooting from the free throw line, was pleased with how the five-time NBA champion sparked the club.

"Derek did a great job of giving us that spark off the bench, knocking down those shots, playing tremendous defense and playing hard," Durant said. "That is what we expect from him every single night."

Another NBA Champion in Kendrick Perkins also made his mark on the contest, scoring 13 points to go with six rebounds and tough defense all night long on Nowitzki. Most important, however, were his two made free throws that put the Thunder up by three with 3:20 remaining. In fact, the Thunder's free throw shooting all night was a sight to behold, as the team went an incredible 37-for-39 from the line, including a run of six straight makes from Durant and James Harden in the final 50 seconds to seal the victory.

Despite the pleasing their home crowd with its second victory in the series in the first two games, the Thunder realizes that there is tons of basketball left to be played, starting with Thursday night's game in Dallas. The 37-year old Fisher, who knows a thing or two about Playoff basketball, didn't mince words when discussing the amount of work left to be done for the Thunder in this series.

"Until you figure out a way to win four games in a series, nobody cares whether you're up 2-0," Fisher said. "None of my rings say on the side how the series happened. If you advance, that's the goal. We haven't advanced by winning two games. We just protected our home court and so we're not going to get excited about this, we're not going to start thinking about how good we are and think ahead. We're going to respect our opponent and be ready to go Thursday night."

Turning Point
The largest lead for either team in the fourth quarter was four points, a lead that the Thunder held twice, the last time coming at 92-88 after a Derek Fisher three-pointer. With 2:18 remaining, the turning point in this one occurred as the Thunder trailed 97-96.The Thunder forced a Jason Kidd turnover and a missed Dirk Nowitzki three-pointer before Kevin Durant and James Harden closed out the game with six straight free throws. On the other end, the Thunder's switching and rotating defense got hands in the faces of Nowitzki and Jason Terry, forcing a missed turnaround jump shot and two missed three pointers to end the game at 102-99. That 6-2 run in the final 2:18 was clutch basketball at its finest.

Plays the box score won't show, first half
Kendrick Perkins snags a loose ball and knocks down a mid-range jumper to start the game, then he comes over and blocks Dirk Nowitzki… Nice closeout by Russell Westbrook forces a missed layup, then Serge Ibaka blocks a shot… Westbrook push dribbles ahead into the lane and dumps it off to Perkins who finishes, with the foul… Ibaka threatens and forces a turnover, then knocks down a midrange jumper off a Thabo Sefolosha assist… Westbrook splits the double team again and finishes at the rim with the foul… Strong post defense from James Harden on Vince Carter to force a miss, then Kevin Durant goes hard to the paint and draws a foul… Nick Collison hustles and grabs an offensive board and kicks it to James Harden, who drives and draws a foul… Collison plays solid defense on Nowitzki and Durnat boxes out to grab a defensive board… Harden uses a Collison screen to knock down a three pointer, then he and Ibaka combine for a steal that leads to a Harden-to-Collison reverse layup… Collison hustles then Harden hits Daequan Cook for a pump-fake then midrange jumper… Cook runs the floor and hits Fisher who pump fakes and knocks down a jumper to end the quarter… Great job of showing on the curl by Serge Ibaka, which forced a tough pass and missed shot… Harden pokes the ball away from Jason Terry then Fisher uses an Ibaka screen to knock down a free throw line jumper… Cook stands his ground and draws a charge on Nowitzki, then Fisher steps up and hits another jumper… Solid defense by Collison that leads to a Harden steal, then Westbrook drives and dishes to Fisher who knocks down another jumper… Westbrook bothers Jason Terry's shot, then comes down and posts him up for a fadeaway… Fisher makes a steal from behind in transition, then Durant anticipates perfectly and feeds it ahead to Westbrook for a layup… Westbrook knocks down a midrange jumper to stop a Mavericks run, then Westbrook drives and gets to the free throw line for two shots… Huge rebound by Westbrook on the defensive end, then Perkins makes an important offensive rebound and knocks down two free throws… Nice help side defense by Durant and Ibaka forces a turnover, then Ibaka frees up Durant for a three-pointer.

Plays the box score won't show, second half
Westbrook ends a 5-0 Mavs run with a jumper in the lane with the foul, then Durant comes down with a good defensive board… Collison hustles on the offensive glass to keep the possession alive… Collison comes over and makes a block and Perkins makes a tough rebound… Harden goes hard to the rim to draw a foul and makes two free throws… Hard rebounding by Durant and Perkins on both ends, as Perkins tips out an offensive board that leads to a Perkins put-back jam… Perkins with energy again on the glass leads to a Harden run out and layup… Harden does a great job of denying Nowitzki the ball on a mismatch… Westbrook hits a much-needed midrange jumper, then Collison and Fisher make a steal… Wonderful defensive possession by Collison and Fisher to force a 24-second shot clock violation… Harden strips Vince Carter and knocks it off his leg… Westbrook staunchly defends Terry to close out the quarter… Good hustle by Harden to chase Terry, then Harden hits Collison for a layup… Huge board by Fisher, then Harden drives to the lane, gets fouled and hits two free throws… Harden draws an extra defender and hits Westbrook for a big three-pointer, then Fisher comes away with a rebound on defense and Durant kicks to Harden who hits Fisher for a corner three-pointer… Durant drives and hits a fadeaway with a man in his face… Russell stays firm on defense and draws a charge on Nowitzki, then Perkins draws a foul off a dish from Harden and knocks down both free throws… Durant with an incredible save after a steal, then Durant makes a tough box out… Harden grabs a loose ball, then Perkins, Ibaka and Sefolosha all contest shots to close out the game and get the win.

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