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James Harden sparks Thunder comeback to eliminate Dallas

May 5, 2012, 11:12 PM EST

Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks - Game Four Getty Images

I’d say that the torch in the West has been passed, but that’s not what it felt like.

It felt like James Harden and the Oklahoma City Thunder grabbed the torch and ran off with it.

Harden scored seven in a row — and had 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter — to spark the Thunder as they came from 13 points back in the fourth quarter to sweep the defending champions Mavericks out of the playoffs, winning Game 4 103-97.

Harden is the guy the Thunder want to have the ball late in games because he makes plays — Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook fall into hero ball when given the ball late, Harden looks to make plays. Oh, he can score, but he will just as likely set up others. He sparks the Thunder. He sparked this comeback.

If you’re just noticing that now, you seeing what other GMs have been noticing for a couple years — there are a lot of teams that covet him. Doesn’t matter, the Thunder are not letting him go.

For Dallas, this outcome was really decided last summer when Mark Cuban decided not bring Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea, DeShawn Stevenson and Caron Butler back — he rolled the dice on this season to set up the room to offer a max deal to Deron Williams this summer. They had hoped Lamar Odom could fill in that gap, but he couldn’t. That lack of depth showed during the comeback — Dirk Nowitizki had 34 but he did not have enough help anymore. The Mavs put up a fight, but they no longer had the horses.

But it was not all Dallas — Oklahoma City has grown as a team and were far the best side in this series. They have grown and evolved at both ends of the floor, and sent a message with this sweep that they are the team to beat in the West. They have the best scorer in the league — Durant had 24 points and 11 rebounds in this one. They have Westbrook’s speed and scoring. They have Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka in the paint.

And they have Harden coming off the bench. Dallas couldn’t match him. And they are gone because of it.

  1. progress2011 - May 5, 2012 at 11:41 PM

    Baller Award!

    kobe would have won more than one MVP over the course of his career, if he understood the basic “Basketball Fundamentals” Harden has.

    Its simple, pass when you are defended, shoot when you are open.

  2. spytdi - May 5, 2012 at 11:56 PM

    How much were you paid to say that Oklahoma City has grown as a team? Dallas fell apart in the offseason; easy to see.

    • lyndseymarieee - May 6, 2012 at 3:01 AM

      you obviously didn’t watch any basketball this season if you think that oklahoma city hasn’t grown as a team and that dallas has been playing mediocre ball all year.

      • lyndseymarieee - May 6, 2012 at 3:02 AM

        hasn’t been*

    • bigmeechy74 - May 6, 2012 at 3:10 AM

      dumbest comment of the day. congrats

  3. jwlemarine - May 6, 2012 at 12:20 AM

    Spytdi your an idiot!

    • itsmammoth - May 6, 2012 at 8:43 PM

      you’re*

  4. lameasish - May 6, 2012 at 2:33 AM

    I hate to do it but…you’re

  5. storebrandcookies - May 6, 2012 at 3:02 AM

    Pardon my cliche, but what a rollercoaster season for the Mavericks. You knew this was going to be a tough season when they lost some key pieces of their championship from a season ago, especially Chandler.

    Going into this offseason they need to make the most out of this weak free agent class, highlighted by one Deron Williams. I’m getting a headache from thinking what the Mavs will look like next season if they don’t get Deron this offseason.

    PG- ? (Beaubois?)
    SG- ?
    SF- Marion
    PF- Nowitzki
    C- Mahimi/ Haywood and his sloppy offensive game?

  6. kavika6 - May 6, 2012 at 5:07 AM

    Dallas is the worst “champion” of all time.

    • therealroman - May 6, 2012 at 9:26 AM

      what’s up with the “champion”? did they not beat everyone last year?
      plus this team is obviously not the same as last year. but i think the Mavs-organisation is gonna benefit from the decisions in the past off-season in the long run even though it’s hurting them this year (should have kept Tyson Chandler obviously though, their defense could have been extreme)

  7. jrpnbafan - May 6, 2012 at 7:56 AM

    OKC is the team to beat in the West? I don’t think so. Spurs is the team to beat in the West. OKC has a long way to be the champs.

  8. sellahh - May 6, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    “But it was not all Dallas — Oklahoma City has grown as a team and were far the _best_ side in this series.”
    Dag. I thought there were only 2 teams in a single series. Must of been wrong, tho.
    “They have Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka in the paint.”
    Oh noes. Kendrick Perkins. You know, he is so tall and he rotates off-ball so well. Doesnt he? Okay… But at least he’s a tremendout shotblocker, right? Okay… But at least he motivates the whole team due to his speak-up style on the court and his communication skills. RIGHT? Nah? Dayum, there must be a reason he got that fat chips extension from OKC, right? Other that his great staredown skills… anyone?

    • scalfor3 - May 6, 2012 at 9:22 PM

      dudes one of the best post defenders in the league. been a starter almost his whole career, on good teams for most of it. hes won a ring too. other than that hes worthless. idiot.

      • scalfor3 - May 6, 2012 at 9:23 PM

        okc did pay him too much tho, ill give you that

      • sellahh - May 6, 2012 at 9:33 PM

        Which part of what I said is not true? Is Perkins tall for a center? Is he a great help defender? Is he a good-to-great shotblocker? Is he a Tyson Chandler communication type guy? All he’s good for is guarding his man 1on1 and staring down some other guy here and there. But to consider a guy a post presence solely due to his man to man defense is laughable… at best. Idio… ah whatever, I’m better than that :-)

  9. jbizzzle - May 6, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    Gotta give props to OKC they look like a championship team. Mavs fell off this ur but anyone who knows anything about basketball saw it coming w the offseason moves last yr. Let’s get this offseason started right and go out and sign a couple of superstars!! MFFL

  10. itsmammoth - May 6, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    OKC is stacked.. so many good players.

  11. lemfax - May 9, 2012 at 6:36 AM

    Bulls 4-1
    Indiana 4-0
    Miami 4-3
    Boston 4-3
    Spurs 4-0
    Memphis 4-2
    *Thunder 4-0
    Denver 4-3

    Bulls vs Indiana 4-2
    Miami vs Boston 4-2
    Spurs vs Memphis 4-2
    Thunder vs Denver 4-1

    Miami vs Bulls 4-2
    Spurs vs Thunder 4-1

    Spurs vs Miami 4-3 (Wade would missed game 7)

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