Final

Oklahoma City wins series 4-0 (Game 3 of 4)

Oklahoma City wins series 4-0

Game 1: Saturday, April 28th
Mavericks98Final
Thunder99
Game 2: Monday, April 30th
Mavericks99Final
Thunder102
Game 3: Thursday, May 3rd
Thunder95Final
Mavericks79
Game 4: Saturday, May 5th
Thunder103Final
Mavericks97

Thunder 95

(47-19, 21-12 away)

Mavericks 79

(36-30, 23-10 home)

    Coverage: TNT

    9:30 PM ET, May 3, 2012

    American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    OKC 32 18 25 2095
    DAL 26 15 16 2279

    Top Performers

    Oklahoma City: K. Durant 31 Pts, 3 Reb, 6 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

    Dallas: D. Nowitzki 17 Pts, 9 Reb

    Hot-shooting Kevin Durant leads Thunder, pushes Mavs to brink of elimination

    Associated Press

    DALLAS -- When Kevin Durant finally found his postseason shooting touch for Oklahoma City, the young Thunder were off and running.

    And now they are already only one victory from knocking the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks out of the playoffs.

    Unlike the first two games in Oklahoma City, Game 3 wasn't even close. Durant got the Thunder off to a quick start and they never trailed on the way to a 95-79 victory Thursday night for a commanding 3-0 series lead.

    "Kevin is going to stay confident," said fellow 20-something All-Star teammate Russell Westbrook. "Tonight, he was just his regular self. He kind of surprised everybody else, but to us he was his regular self."

    Even though Durant missed the first shot of the game, Serge Ibaka turned that into a putback basket. Durant then scored nine points in an early 3-minute span, including two 3-pointers and a 17-foot fadeaway, as Oklahoma City took a 14-7 lead.

    Durant finished with 31 points on 11-of-15 shooting. The three-time NBA scoring champion was a combined 15 of 44 in the first two games of the series, though he had a game-winning jumper with 1.5 seconds in the opener.

    "He was jumping over us and making shots," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said.

    Westbrook added 20 points while Ibaka had 10 points and 11 rebounds, while James Harden and Derek Fisher both had 10 points.

    Now the Thunder get a chance to put away the best-of-seven series in Game 4 Saturday night in Dallas.

    "We know we haven't done anything yet," Durant said.

    OK, so they haven't won the series yet. But they have put the Mavericks in a hole that no NBA team has ever overcome. None has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series.

    The Mavericks have a nearly impossible climb to avoid being the first defending champion knocked out in the first round of the playoffs since Miami five years ago. After beating Dallas in the 2006 NBA finals, the Heat were swept in four games by Chicago in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs the next season.

    "Our mistakes we weren't able to overcome. Their high-level play, we weren't able to overcome either," Carlisle said. "It's really tough to go down 0-3. We're going to keep fighting."

    Dirk Nowitzki had 17 points to lead Dallas, which lost the first two games by a combined four points.

    "We played two solid games in OKC. Tonight, we picked a bad time to put a stinker out there," Nowitzki said. "We've got to win a game. ... We've got to show some pride on Saturday."

    Oklahoma City had a 16-7 lead less than 5 minutes into the game after Durant's alley-oop pass to Ibaka for a layup. The Thunder pushed ahead with 16-5 runs in both the second and third quarters, the later spurt clinching the game.

    When Kendrick Perkins had a tip-in of Harden's miss with 4 minutes left in the first quarter, Carlisle was so irate that the field goal wasn't disallowed for basket interference that he had to be restrained by one of his assistant coaches.

    Carlisle went ballistic, charging onto the court screaming and pointing at official Marc Davis. Replays showed Carlisle might have had a good argument, but he got called for a technical foul and Westbrook's free throw put the Thunder up 21-11, their first double-digit lead.

    "There's been frustration with officials, but we're not going to make it about officials," Carlisle said.

    A couple of minutes later, Durant made his third 3-pointer to stretch the gap to 28-13. Durant had 15 points by the end of the first quarter.

    Dallas did cut the deficit to 32-26 by the end of the first quarter after Vince Carter made two free throws, had a driving one-handed dunk and ended the quarter with a 3-pointer in the final 1:34 for Dallas. Delonte West started the second quarter with two free throws.

    But the Thunder were again up by 15 after consecutive 3-pointers by Fisher and Westbrook.

    Harden made a cross-court pass to Fisher in the left corner in front of the Oklahoma City bench. Then after a wide-open Shawn Marion fumbled the ball out of bounds under the Dallas basket, Westbrook hit a 3-pointer for a 48-33 lead that led to a timeout by Carlisle.

    Dallas got a slam from Ian Mahinmi and a driving layup by Kidd in the opening minute of the third quarter to get within 50-45.

    But the Thunder then had their second 16-5 run, and was back up 66-50 when Thabo Sefolosha made a 3-pointer. The Mavericks never got closer than 11 points after that, finishing the third quarter only 4-of-18 shooting with four turnovers.

    "We can't get frustrated. You've got to tip your hat to them. They kicked our butt in every facet of the game," Mavs guard Jason Terry said. "We've got to come out with pride and execute our game plan. We haven't done that in this series."

    Game notes


    Harden was added earlier Thursday to the list of finalists for the 2012 USA Basketball National Team. Thunder teammates Durant and Westbrook are also finalists for the 12-man U.S. Olympic team roster that will be announced later this year. ... Dallas was assessed four technical fouls. Nowitzki got called for one in the first quarter, and West was called in the third quarter when he reached out and grabbed the wrist of official Greg Willard when questioning a call. There was a double technical early in the fourth against Brian Cardinal and Durant.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Team Stat Comparison

     
    OKC
    DAL
    Points 95 79
    FGM-FGA 36-85 (.424) 26-76 (.342)
    3PM-3PA 12-28 (.429) 7-22 (.318)
    FTM-FTA 11-17 (.647) 20-26 (.769)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-45 9-46
    Assists 18 15
    Turnovers 8 16
    Steals 11 6
    Blocks 7 4
    Fast Break Points 10 10
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (1/0) 16 (4/0)
    Largest Lead 26 0

    Top Performers

    Oklahoma City
    Dallas
    Kevin Durant Durant
    Points: 31
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 1
    Dirk Nowitzki Nowitzki
    Points: 17
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 0
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0

    Research Notes

    NEXT LEVEL: Kevin Durant shot 8 of 10 from 15+ feet of the basket Thursday, his career high from such distance (minimum 10 attempts). Statistical support for this story from NBA.com.
      [+]
    The Mavericks are one loss away from becoming the fifth defending champion in NBA history to fail to win a playoff game the following season. The 2006-07 Heat are the only defending champs to be swept in the first round under the current best-of-seven format.
      [+]
    With their loss to the Thunder, the Mavericks are the second defending champion in NBA history to lose their first three playoff games. In 2007, the Heat were swept by the Bulls in the First Round.
    The Mavericks never led in this game - there were 0 lead changes and 0 ties (not counting 0-0). Contrast that with Game 2 of this series - there were 16 lead changes and 16 ties.

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