The Oklahoma City Thunder did what no team has been able to do in the 2011 NBA playoffs with a 106-100 win in Dallas. The Mavericks had yet to lose on their home floor and put up a fight on Thursday night, but were unable to claw back as the Thunder surged in the fourth quarter.
Scott Brooks rode the hot hands and stayed with the bench in the fourth quarter, leaving Eric Maynor and James Harden on the floor and Russell Westbrook on the bench. Westbrook's absence raise more than a few eyebrows as Brooks rolled the dice and kept Westbrook, who has been maligned at times for selfish play, on the bench.
But the gamble worked: The Thunder pulled away from Dallas and stayed in front in the waning moments to even the series at one game apiece. Kevin Durant scored a game-high 24 points, with Harden adding 23 points off the bench. Westbrook had 18 points and Maynor, his replacement, scored 13 points.
Dirk Nowitzki was far from perfect on Thursday and finally missed a free throw at the most inopportune time. At the line for three free throws and a with a chance to narrow the Mavs' deficit to three, Nowitzki was only able to convert two of three and Dallas was unable to reel-in the Thunder. Nowitzi still finished with a game-high 29 on 10-17 shooting. Tyson Chandler had 15 points and 13 rebounds to collect a double-double, with Jason Kidd adding 13 points. Jason Terry was also in double-figures with 11 points.
With the series even at one, the Mavs and Thunder head to Oklahoma City for Game 3, which is set to get underway Saturday at 9 p.m. EDT.