Dirk Nowitzki was out of this world and most others in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals as the Dallas Mavericks took a 1-0 series lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder; the German scored 48 points on 12-15 shooting from the floor and 24-24 shooting from the line. He was completely unstoppable; no matter what the Thunder tried, Nowitzki got the ball into the bottom of the night. His performance really took on a life of its own, even as Oklahoma City clawed to within single digits in the fourth quarter.
But Kevin Durant had a brilliant night, too; the silky spinner had 40 points on 10-18 shooting from the floor and 18-19 shooting from the line. Two of the best scorers in the game -- never mind their size compared to our usual idea of top NBA scorers -- went toe-to-toe, shot-for-shot, and Dallas came out ahead. Nowitzki's supporting cast deserves some credit; the Mavericks defense held Russell Westbrook to a 3-15 shooting night, and J.J. Barea exploded for 21 points off of the bench on 8-12 shooting.
While all eyes will be on Dirk and Durant, how those next-tier players perform will be key in Game 2 (9 p.m. ET, ESPN). Barea is no stranger to big scoring nights; he'd hit the 20-point mark five times since Jan. 1. Westbrook has been hot and cold throughout the playoffs; to expect him to shoot 20 percent again is madness. Jason Terry and James Harden were good in Game 1; will either be even better off the bench? Dirk's unstoppable play and Durant's irrepressible game may end up deciding the contest and the series, but they aren't the only two who matter.