Skip to content

NBA Playoffs: OKC takes Game 2 in Dallas

May 20, 2011, 12:45 AM EDT


Can one play, early in the first quarter of Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, change a series? The Oklahoma City Thunder certainly hope so.

After falling behind by double digits early, Kevin Durant seemed to have had enough. With his Thunder looking sluggish and trailing by nine points with just over a minute left in the first quarter, Durant drove into the lane and elevated until he was eye-level with the rim, and threw down an aggressive slam over Brendan Haywood that seemed to awaken his team. From then on, OKC was able to match every move that Dallas made, and eventually was able to pull away for a 106-100 win on Thursday to even the series at a game apiece.

Dirk Nowitzki finished with 29 points, five rebounds, and five assists, but wasn’t anywhere near as dominant as he was during his 48-point performance in Game 1. The Thunder largely fronted Nowitzki defensively, and brought baseline double-team help to force the ball out of his hands.

On the Thunder’s side, Durant was big in total, but James Harden had his highest scoring game of the postseason, pouring in 23 points on just nine shots in over 32 minutes of action. But something that will most certainly be talked about before Game 3 is the fact that starting point guard Russell Westbrook was on the bench as this one came to its conclusion.

“Sticking with Eric (Maynor) over Russell, I thought Eric did a good job,” Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said, in a press conference streamed live on “Russell is an incredible player, he’s our starting point guard, but we weren’t getting a lot of things done. And his time was to come out, and I stayed with Eric.”

Westbrook was more than fine in this one, and finished with 18 points and four assists. But the group with Maynor was playing at a higher and more cohesive level late, so it’s not surprising that Brooks would stick with the bench squad that was getting it done.

Lest you think that Nowitzki simply didn’t have it in this one the way he did in Game 1, think again. He played all 12 minutes of the final quarter, and scored 16 of his team’s 24 points in that frame. But the rest of the team went just 2 of 12 in the fourth, while the Thunder, led by Harden, shot almost 65 percent to close this one out.

The lack of defense from Dallas is nothing new — as dominant as Nowitzki was in Game 1, OKC was within reasonable reach in the final minutes, and let’s not forget, Durant finished that game with 40. If the Mavs are to take command of this series, it will be as a result of their supreme execution on the offensive end of the floor.

With the series tied heading into Game 3, there are a few things to watch. Can Nowitzki once again dominate as he did in Game 1? Can the Thunder figure out the proper lineup to use late, as they did in Game 2? And most importantly, can OKC perform with its All-Star starting point guard possibly questioning his ability?

As they say, this is why we watch.

  1. borderline1988 - May 20, 2011 at 8:47 AM

    Man, James Harden simply didn’t miss. He kept nailing shots in the 3rd and 4th quarters, even when the Mavs were playing good D on him. Completely demoralizing.
    The Mavs didnt play too well, but I though they played good enough to win. Just Harden hit some ridiculous shots, and that put OKC over the top.

    Everyone makes this series about Durant/Nowitzki.
    But maybe this series is all about Harden vs. Terry/Barea? The teams are fairly evenly matched everywhere else. Whoever is hitting their shots off the bench and providing that spark is the one who wills his team to win….

  2. purdueman - May 20, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    So much for home court advantage. I think that the whole home court advantage thing in this day and age of cookie cutter oversized arenas is way overrated. Unlike in football, home weather conditions aren’t a factor and unlike in baseball the playing field’s layout and dimensions aren’t a factor either, so why all the big whoop about it all the time?

    • mickdamill - May 20, 2011 at 12:38 PM

      No home court advantage, have you ever seen OKC’s home crowd? How can you not feed off of that energy? The Thunder managed to play well enough this game to take the home crowd out of it.

      People were not giving Thunder a chance after game 1 but they are proving everyone wrong. Nick Collison played tremedous defense last game, props to that man.

      • purdueman - May 20, 2011 at 1:22 PM

        mick… let me elaborate….

        I think that home court would be a big advantage were it not for the ridiculous breaks between games once the conference championship games begin. Just like the abnormal additional extra week between the NFL Conference Championship games and the Super Bowl, the big breaks between these games put A LOT more emphasis on coaching and making adjustments that I feel (at least in part), offset home court advantage.

        I can’t think of one good/valid reason why game #3 between the Heat and Bulls isn’t being played tonight instead of waiting all the way until Sunday. It kills whatever momentum a team may have had coming off of the previous game.

        The UC in Chicago is also a very loud place, and the Bulls marketing department has tried to transfer the shtick of “The Madhouse on Madison” from the old Chicago Stadium to the new much bigger and acoustically better UC, but no matter what you call the UC, it’s never going to be the “Madhouse on Madison” that the old Chicago Stadium was!

        Yes, the crowd noise at the beginning of the game and at those times when the home team makes a run have to pump up the adrenaline levels of the home team players, but all the opposing coach has to do is call a time out to quell that because even some 20 second time outs turn into two minute breaks in the action so that the networks can squeeze in more commercials (again, helping to negate home court advantage).

        If home court advantage was as big of a factor as many still think it is, then Dallas and Chicago both would have won their last games. With respect to the Bulls, it’s not as if they got blown out by Miami in game #2; they just couldn’t hit the side of a barn with the basketball the other night.

        As for the Thunder? I LOVED, and I mean ABSOLUTELY LOVED their trade for Perkins with Boston. I was hoping for a Thunder-Laker playoff matchup, because I would have LOVED to have seen the young charging Thunder run the aging, leg weary Lakers off the court!

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2391)
  2. L. James (2017)
  3. K. Irving (1914)
  4. K. Bryant (1850)
  5. A. Davis (1598)