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Steals are leading Mavs to big payday

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Led by Jason Kidd's playoff-best 32 steals, the Dallas Mavericks are thieving their way to the NBA Finals.

In Monday's unbelievable come-from-behind victory, the Mavs added 15 steals to their rising total that includes 40 steals through four games of the Western Conference finals and 26 in the last two games on the road.

Part of it has to bes chalked up to the Mavs' veteran savvy and intuition against the Oklahoma City Thunder's youth and inexperience. The Thunder's 22-and-under players --Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and James Harden -- accounted for 23 of the their 26 turnovers.

The Mavs have relied on ageless guile to strip the ball from the Thunder's grasp and, quite literally, strip away this series. Jason Kidd came up with the defining steal, knocking the ball free from Durant for his ninth turnover with a minute to go in overtime and the game tied. Kidd then swished the game-winning 3-point shot to cap the rally from down 99-84 with five minutes to play.

"We're game-planning like crazy for the guy," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said of Durant, who had seven turnovers total in the first three games. "We're double-teaming him out to halfcourt a lot of the time. He's receiving a lot of attention. So look, we got our hands on some balls and those deflections, they just showed how much we wanted to hang in and give ourselves a chance."

Dallas' over-30 crew got the job done with 12 steals in the game. Kidd, Shawn Marion and Jason Terry all had four steals in the game and they combined for five of the 15 total steals in the fourth quarter and overtime.

The Mavs ranked 23rd in steals during the season at 6.8 a game and have taken it up to 7.0 in the postseason, second behind the Chicago Bulls (7.2) among the three other teams still alive.