A wild NBA Playoffs continued with four Saturday games, three of which came down to the final minutes. We lead in Dallas, where 37-year-old Vince Carter's baseline jumper put the Mavericks in front of the mighty Spurs, 2-1.
Oklahoma City Thunder RECAP
92 - 89 Tied 2-2
5 things to know
Vinsane in the membrane
After a blowout loss in Game 2, the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs appeared on the verge of escaping Game 3 with a victory thanks to a Manu Ginobili bucket with 1.7 seconds left. However, Vince Carter was having none of that, and his game-winning three at the buzzer -- one that looked eerily similar to the biggest missed shot in his career -- now has the Dallas Mavericks improbably up 2-1 in the series. There's a lot of time left in this first-round series, but the idea that the Mavericks could beat the NBA's best team in a series is gaining more and more traction.
Carter was the hero at the very end, but Dallas wouldn't have had the chance to win it if not for Monta Ellis. The guard scored a playoff career-high 29 points, with 12 of those coming in the fourth quarter and seven in the final 1:37 as the Mavs fought back from a late five-point deficit. Do you believe in miracles? -Jason Patt
Oklahoma City's pyrrhic victory
The last and only playoff series that featured three consecutive games that went into overtime was the 2009 classic between the Celtics and Bulls. That series featured amazing shots and breathtaking offense.
This was not that. The Thunder and Grizzlies did match that feat, and this time it was OKC that came away with the victory because the rules state that someone has to win. There was no rhyme or reason to it. Nothing resembled any kind of basketball flow or aesthetics. It was straight survival.
Let the record show that it was Reggie Jackson -- and not Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook -- who saved the Thunder’s season. The third-year guard scored 32 points and was sensational. But it was the method -- ISOs, contested jump shots, no movement, spacing or anything that resembled a coherent offensive plan -- that has left so many wondering what in the hell Thunder coach Scott Brooks actually does with that whiteboard during timeouts.
The Grizzlies were ferocious and valiant per usual, but sometimes talent and a little bit of luck is enough. That’s not the best explanation, but as this series heads back to Oklahoma all square at two games apiece, it will have to suffice. -Paul Flannery
Hawks revert at worst possible time
With the way the Atlanta Hawks have played against the Pacers, it's easy to forget this is a team that finished six games under .500 and lost 14 of 15 at one point between February and March. The Hawks needed the gift of a lousy Eastern Conference just to get to the playoffs, but the matchup problems they've given the top-seeded Pacers obscured the fact that Atlanta isn't particularly good in the first place.
The Hawks provided a sobering reminder of that fact during crunch time in Game 4. Atlanta had the four-point lead with four minutes left, but poor offensive execution doomed a golden opportunity for the No. 8 seed to take a 3-1 series lead. The Hawks' last chance to tie -- an ugly play that led to a missed desperation three by Pero Antic -- summed up the late game frustration to a tee.
Of course, Indiana's defense had a lot to do with that, too. The Pacers finished with the No. 1 defense in the regular season for a reason, and it showed up at the best time possible. With their backs against the wall, the Pacers made enough plays to win on Saturday, from clutch threes by David West and Paul George and multiple stops at the end. The entire world might be ready to write off the Pacers, but the the type of defense Indy is still capable of playing might make it all premature. -Paul Flannery
We're done here
There were 10 minutes left in the third quarter, and Josh McRoberts charged down the lane, having just received a pass from Al Jefferson. There was a famous similar play earlier this year when McRoberts threw down a thunderous reverse dunk on the Brooklyn Nets. This time, though, he was met at the rim by the league's two-time MVP. The weak floater fell off the rim.
One possession later, Al Jefferson caught the ball three feet from the hoop and prepared to drop it softly into the rim, like he had so many times this season. The Bobcats' star had battled valiantly through foot pain and carried Charlotte in their first half of playoff ball since 2010. Only this time, Chris Bosh came over at the last minute and swatted it back in Jefferson's face.
These two plays, along with several others in a third-quarter downpour that led to a blowout win and a 3-0 series lead, showed off the Heat at full capacity. With contenders falling apart around them, the Heat smelled blood. Suddenly, their three-peat chances look mighty good. -Mike Prada
The show goes on
Donald Sterling's mouth threatened to overshadow another packed day of playoff basketball. Thankfully, the players ensured that wouldn't happen. Sterling has money. As one of 30 NBA team owners, he has some modicum of power. But as Saturday shows, he actually means nothing -- less than nothing -- to the sport itself. This is a players' game, and from Paul George to Vince to LeBron to Reggie Jackson, they showed why on Saturday.
No matter what stupid things come out of his mouth, Donald Sterling can't ruin the beautiful game. And when the Clippers take the court again on Sunday, when Chris Paul and Blake Griffin run a perfect pick-and-roll and DeAndre Jordan throws down a vicious dunk and Jamal Crawford crosses an opponent into next Tuesday, we'll see again that in spite of his best efforts, Donald Sterling has no relevance to the actual sport, and never will. The game doesn't need him or his money at all. The sport doesn't sway under his whims. How painful that must be for a man who thinks he matters in the NBA. -Tom Ziller
Chicago Bulls at Washington Wizards Washington leads 2-1 | 1 p.m., ABC Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors Los Angeles leads 2-1 | 3:30 p.m., ABC Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif.
Toronto Raptors at Brooklyn Nets Brooklyn leads 2-1 | 7 p.m., TNT Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Houston Rockets at Portland Trail Blazers Portland leads 2-1 | 9:30 p.m., TNT Moda Center, Portland, Ore.