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.
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