OKC Bench Big, Thunder Even Series
Kevin Durant scored 24 points for Oklahoma City, as the Thunder defeated the Mavericks in Dallas last night 106-100. The bigger story for OKC was their superb bench play, led by James Harden. He scored 23, including 10 in the final period, helping his team knot up the Western Conference Finals at one game apiece. Here is more from the AP and espn.com.
The bearded, left-handed guard (Harden) had a four-point play in the final seconds of the third quarter that put Oklahoma City up by one. Then he and fellow reserves Eric Maynor, Nick Collison and Daequan Cook teamed with Durant to outplay Dallas' crew of closers in the final period.
The Thunder's unusual set of finishers outscored the Mavs' by five. They broke the game open with a 14-5 stretch capped by a tough jumper by Harden near the foul line; it put Oklahoma City up by 10 with 3:15 left. Dallas got as close as four points the rest of the way.
The Mavericks got great production from Dirk Nowitzki in the fourth quarter, but not much from anyone else. JJ Barea had 4, and DeShaun Stevenson had 2. That's it. Dallas' role players did not come through in the clutch. OKC's did. That was the difference on Thursday night.
The series now shifts to Oklahoma City, only 200 miles up I-35. Tip-off Saturday night is set for 8:00.
The side story that will be sure to catch headlines was Russell Westbrook. You can read Scott's blog about it here.