Two points is two points is two points, except when it’s of the “down the lane, rise to the top of the backboard, in yo face, Boom!” variety. Just ask Brendan Haywood. Kevin Durant’s salacious dunk late in the first quarter ignited the Oklahoma City Thunder’s attack and led the way to a 106-100 Game 2 victory over the Dallas Mavs on their home court.
The League’s leading scorer tallied 24 points for the road team, but it was the bench, led by the bearded one, James Harden, and his 23 points, that allowed OKC to even the Western Conference Finals series at 1-1.
Big bench take little bench.
The reserves were so brilliant that Coach Scott Brooks made the bold decision to leave them in for the entire fourth quarter, leaving Russell Westbrook to think about his costly turnovers and what it means to play within the system for 12 long minutes. Westbrook will undoubtedly bounce back in Game 3, but the story was not who wasn’t on the court, so much as who was: Nick Collison, Eric Maynor and Harden each made big plays down the stretch that continued to silence the boisterous home crowd to steal one in Dallas.
Dirk Nowitzki kept the Mavs within striking distance in the fourth quarter with 16 points, but when he missed his first free throw after making 39 straight, the fat lady started humming her tune.
The signature play for OKC was Harden doing his best Allen Iverson impression at the top of key to rise up and sink a long bomb over the outstretched arms of a Mavs defender as the shot clock expired.
Maynor added 13 points and notable ball distribution for the Thunder, while Daequan Cook and Collison had 8 and 6, respectively.
Tyson Chandler had another solid game with 15 points and 13 rebounds, but the Mavs’ bench was subpar: JJ Barea had 11 points and Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic only had 8 points apiece.
The WCF will resume Saturday in Oklahoma City, where the home team will try for the series lead in front of one of the loudest crowds in the L and Dallas will try to right the ship and pull a 2-11 of their own. —Maurice Bobb (@ReeseReport)