Thunder Sweep Mavericks As James Harden Pops Off In Game 4

The Oklahoma City Thunder made sure that the defending champion Dallas Mavericks were the first team eliminated in 2012 with a 4-0 sweep.

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And Now, Watch The Dallas Mavericks Get Dismantled Again

The Thunder tore the Mavericks to pieces in a four-game sweep. Now the Mavericks will tear themselves to pieces again as Dallas prepares for the ________ era.

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Mavericks Vs. Thunder, NBA Playoffs 2012 Game 4: OKC Eliminates Dallas, Winning 103-97

Despite playing four of the closest games so far in the first round of the NBA playoffs, the Oklahoma City Thunder completed the series sweep, defeating the Dallas Mavericks, 103-97, in Game 4. The Thunder were eliminated by the eventual champion Mavs in last season's Western Conference Finals, but, despite winning the four games by an average of 8.5 points, Oklahoma City handled them in this first round series. It was the first time the Mavericks have ever been swept in a best-of-seven playoff series, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

James Harden was the absolute star of Game 4. He scored a career playoff high 29 points with five rebounds and five assists, and was really the Thunder's point guard and primary scoring option down the stretch. He hit the game-clinching bucket with 10 seconds left, blowing by a hapless Jason Kidd for a righty layup to put the Thunder up five. Kevin Durant scored 24 points and chipped in 11 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook was uncharacteristically quiet with 12 points.

Dirk Nowitzki did his best to at least help his team to one win in front of the home crowd with 34 points, but he was bizarrely ineffective in the final minutes, missing shots he hit with frightening regularity last year. Just like the Mavs swept the reigning champion Lakers out of last year's playoffs, the Thunder did the same to them, which OKC fans have to consider a good omen for a team with championship-or-bust type expectations. Kidd was the Mavericks' second-best offensive player with 16 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, but he was too old and too slow on defense to contend with Harden, which was the real difference in the game.

For all news and information regarding the Dallas Mavericks, please visit Mavs Moneyball for check out SB Nation Dallas. For updates and perspective on the Oklahoma City Thunder, head on over to Welcome to Loud City.

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VIDEO: Kevin Durant Nails Game-Winner As Thunder Edge Mavericks In Game 1

Kevin Durant didn't have a great Game 1 in the Oklahoma City Thunder's first-round NBA Playoffs series against the Dallas Mavericks. Well, the first 47 minutes, 53 seconds weren't so great. The last seven ticks? Oh so perfect.

Durant hit the off-balance mid-range jumper (with rim and glass!) with time winding down to give the Thunder a 99-98 lead. The man who contested the shot well, Shawn Marion, couldn't get a shot off at the other end as Dallas was out of timeouts. Game, Blouses.

With the make, Durant shot 10-27 for the game, far from his typical efficiency. Luckily, Russell Westbrook (28 points on 13-23) and James Harden (19 points on seven field goal attempts!) were potent enough on offense to get the Thunder into a position in which one of the best players in the world could shoot for the victory.

For more on the Thunder, visit Welcome To Loud City.

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2012 NBA Playoffs, Thunder Vs. Mavericks Final Score: Kevin Durant's Game-Winner Sinks Dallas

The Dallas Mavericks had done everything in their power to thwart the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of their Western Conference Quarterfinals series, including having Dirk Nowitzki get them the lead with less than 10 seconds to play.

Then Kevin Durant hit a game-winner that NBA fans will see for years and years.

Durant, who struggled all night, threw up a prayer from the free throw line that hit the rim, kissed the backboard, and fell in to give the Thunder a 99-98 victory. It gave him 25 points on the night (on 10-for-27 shooting), and gave Oklahoma City a 1-0 lead in the series.

Dallas controlled most of the game, leading for most of the fourth quarter and keeping Durant in check. But the spring-legged Thunder played suffocating defense in the dying throes of the fourth quarter and closed on a 14-6 run.

Russell Westbrook led all scorers with 28 points, and Serge Ibaka had 22 points and five blocks for OKC. Dallas got 25 points from Nowitzki, and 20 from Jason Terry, but Terry was held scoreless in the fourth quarter as the Thunder turned up the defensive pressure.

Game 2 of the series will be Monday night in Oklahoma City. If it's anything like the thrilling Game 1, it will be somewhere between must-see and can't-miss.

For more on the Thunder, visit SB Nation's Thunder blog Welcome to Loud City. For more on the Mavericks, visit SB Nation's Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas. For more on the 2012 NBA Playoffs check out SB Nation's dedicated NBA hub.

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