How it happened: A young Oklahoma City team was better in the fourth quarter than a veteran Dallas squad that prides itself on finishing games strong.
The Thunder outscored the Mavs 29-24 in the fourth quarter to turn a tight game into a comfortable win. Oklahoma City did it with a lineup of superstar Kevin Durant and four reserves.
Thunder sixth man James Harden was simply spectacular down the stretch. His four-point play near the end of the third quarter gave Oklahoma City the lead, and he poured in 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the fourth.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 16 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth, but he got precious little offensive help with the game on the line. J.J. Barea was the only other Dallas player with a field goal in the final frame.
Oklahoma City succeeded in its goal to slow down the big German for the first three quarters. The Thunder helped much more on Nowitzki than they did during his historically efficient 48-point Game 1 performance, sometimes doubling him and usually shading the center toward the strong side of the floor when Nowitzki tried to post up.
Jason Terry typically benefits when foes pay extra attention to Nowitzki, but he had an off night after averaging 26.3 points in the previous eight games. Terry scored only eight points on 3-of-9 shooting in Game 2.
What it means: The series is knotted up as it heads up Interstate 35. The Mavericks’ seven-game winning streak was snapped, as they lost for the first time since their first-round Game 4 meltdown in Portland. The Thunder showed they have the poise to challenge the Mavs. Oklahoma City’s skill and athleticism were never in question.
Play of the game: Kevin Durant blew by Peja Stojakovic and soared over Brendan Haywood for the most spectacular dunk of this postseason. After leaving Stojakovic flat-footed at the top of the 3-point arc, Durant took off from well outside the restricted area and threw down a vicious tomahawk slam despite getting hammered by Haywood. The ball was well above the square on the backboard at the peak of Durant’s leap. Haywood hardly had time to get off the floor.
Stat of the night: The Mavericks did not allow a 100-point game in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Thunder scored 112 and 104 in the first two games of this series.