Game Recap - Conference Finals Game 2 at Dallas Mavericks

Playoffs Game Recap
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2 Games that will be played in Oklahoma City over the next four days.

9 Lead changes in the game.

10 Points James Harden scored in the fourth quarter.

11 Deficit the Thunder overcame in the first quarter.

26 Points the Mavs scored in the first quarter, ending a streak of four consecutive periods in which they scored at least 30 points.

38 Rebounds by the Thunder, which won the board battle for the second game in a row.

50 Combined number of free throw attempts for both teams.

55.7 Thunder’s field goal shooting percentage.

GAME 3 of the Western Conference Finals will be played Saturday night in Oklahoma City. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. on ESPN and the Thunder Radio Network.

“Going back home doesn’t guarantee us two wins, so we’ve got to come out with a mindset to try to take these games and go from there," Thunder forward Kevin Durant said. “We’ve got to take it a possession at a time, one game at a time. It should be fun back at our place."


GAME IN REVIEW

THE GAME WAS OVER WHEN: Thabo Sefolosha soared above all and wrapped his arms around a defensive rebound with 8.9 seconds to play and the Thunder up, 104-100.

Until that time, the outcome was still in doubt given the Mavs’ caliber of shooters.

The Thunder led 102-92 with 3 minutes, 15 seconds remaining following an 11-2 run that featured baskets by four of the five players on the floor. The final points in that run surely will be on highlight reels as James Harden broke down the Mavs’ Jason Terry with a dribbling display to create space and drilled a 22-foot jumper just before the shot clock expired that sent Mavs fans to the exits.

But this is the NBA Playoffs – and comebacks do happen.

The Mavericks turned to forward Dirk Nowitzki coming out of a time out and he responded with back-to-back baskets to cut the lead to six, 102-96. Dallas twice would cut the lead to four, the last time 104-100 with 36.7 seconds to play on free throws by Nowitzki, but the Thunder would not buckle.

Sefolosha grabbed the rebound of a missed 3-point shot by Terry and was immediately fouled as bodies were sprawled on the court under the basket. Sefolosha made both free throws, the final points in the game, and the Thunder became the first visiting team to win at the American Airlines Center in the playoffs.

"I thought that was a heck of a win for us," Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks said. "This is not an easy place to play and get a road playoff win, but I thought our guys in the second half really locked in defensively and really did a great job of contesting shots and making them miss some shots."

STRENGTH IN RESERVE: Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks went with a lineup of one starter and four reserves to start the fourth quarter: Kevin Durant, Nick Collison, Daequan Cook, James Harden and Eric Maynor. The results were so impressive, Brooks stayed with the lineup until the final 36.7 seconds of the period, when Collison fouled out and a replacement had to go in.

“We got a good start to the fourth quarter and we got a good lead," Durant said. “We were playing great defense, the type where you can’t mess that chemistry up and coach made a good decision by doing that. … I just tried to play off those guys. They really won the game for us."

Every player contributed – and at both ends of the court. Two plays by Collison stand out in particular: His block of a Dirk Nowitzki shot with 4:47 to play; and, 1:09 later, when he jarred the ball from Nowitzki’s hands and dove on the floor to get the ball into Maynor’s hands that leads to a 22-foot jumper by Harden and a 102-92 lead.

Collison also hit a pair of free throws with 47.8 seconds to play to keep the Thunder up six, 104-98.

“Nick has a lot of heart. He plays with pure heart," Brooks said. “He plays hard. He does everything for the team and I’m glad that he hit those free throws. Those were big, big free throws."

TURNING POINTS: The Mavericks catch the Thunder defense off guard early on an inbounds pass when Jason Kidd throws a three-quarters length pass to Shawn Marion for crowd-roaring dunk and 17-11 lead. Dallas is just getting started. Kidd hooks up with Tyson Chandler for back-to-back alley-oops to give the Mavericks a 21-11 lead. … With 2:03 to play in first quarter, the Thunder goes on attack mode and the result is a 23-7 run over the next 4:57, turning what was a 28-17 deficit into a 40-35 lead. … At the start of the third quarter, the Thunder stops the Mavericks on their first five possessions and pushes a two-point halftime lead to eight, 65-57. … At the end of the third quarter, James Harden pulls up for a 3-pointer, makes it and is fouled. His four-point play gives the Thunder a 77-76 lead heading into the final 12 minutes.

PLAYS THE BOX SCORE WON'T SHOW: Russell Westbrook feeding a slashing Kevin Durant with a no-look pass for an easy basket. … A great passing sequence from Durant to Kendrick Perkins to Serge Ibaka for an easy basket. … Perkins setting a screen to free Durant for a 15-foot jumper. … Durant throwing down a "posterizing" dunk over Brendan Haywood. … Durant, with Jason Kidd defending him, shoots a cross-court pass to James Harden for a 3-pointer. … Westbrook saves a bounce pass from Durant and hits a 3-pointer for a 59-57 lead at the half. … Thabo Sefolosha reaching in to steal the ball from DeShawn Stevenson. … Collison blocking the shot of Nowitzki in the fourth quarter. … Collison knocking the ball out of Nowitzki’s hands, diving on the floor and getting the ball to Eric Maynor. … Daequan Cook speeding off a pick, catching a pass and draining a 3 right in front of the Mavericks bench.

STATS WORTH REPEATING: 50-29: The Thunder bench scoring vs. the Mavs. James Harden had 23 points, Eric Maynor 13, Daequan Cook eight and Nick Collison six. … 55.7: The Thunder’s shooting percentage from the field. "I don’t remember a game in three years we’ve won when we give up 56 percent field goal shooting," Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle said.

THIS AND THAT: Dirk Nowitzki, coming a 48-point night in Game 1, scored his first basket 3:34 into the game and made his first two free throws 59 seconds later. He made a NBA Playoffs record 24 consecutive free throws on Tuesday and stretched that number to 32 by making his first eight attempts Thursday. … The Mavericks scored 31 points in the first quarter. Earlier in the day, Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks talked about his defense limiting such quarters. The Mavs scored 30 points or more in the second, third and fourth quarters of Game 1. It stopped in the second quarter, when the Mavs scored 26. Dallas scored 19 and 24 points in the final two periods.

LAST WORD I: "We knew we had to get a road win, no question. If you want to advance, you have to win on this court. And we knew going into it, it’s not going to be easy. We gave everything we had. We chipped away last game, came up short, but I thought the guys played hard. That’s one of the things we do. We play hard." – Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks.

LAST WORD II: "It’s big. It’s on the road in the Western Conference Finals. It’s very important and I think as a team we did a good job of staying together." – Thunder guard Russell Westbrook.

LAST WORD III: "You know, scoring 100 points in a playoff game should be enough to win, but not if you’re giving up 106 or 112. It’s just too much. You’ve got to give them credit. They played an attacking, desperate-type game. They kept coming. They did not get discouraged. " – Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle. -- Ron Matthews, THUNDER.NBA.COM