Anything can happen in the NBA. If you don’t believe that, just ask online sports betting players that turned the television off last night thinking that a 15-point Oklahoma City Thunder lead over the Dallas Mavericks with five minutes to play in the fourth quarter was money in the bank, only to wake up this morning to find out the kind of cruel twist that reality had in the cards for their championship aspirations.
Dirk Nowitzki finished with 40 points and Jason Kidd hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 40 seconds left in overtime to lead the Mavericks to the 112-105 game four win, in a performance that Jeff Van Gundy called “legendary”. It was one that also has pushed Oklahoma City to the brink of elimination in the Western conference finals.
The Mavericks seemed very patient early on in the game, perhaps even too casual considering that they fell behind by nine in the opening frame. A couple of early rallies fell[adinserter block=”2″] short and Dallas trailed by 15 with five minutes to play, but that was when they turned it up in a close that few could have predicted. Suddenly the Mavericks’ defense was pressuring Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to force pay per head turnovers, with their age and inexperience beginning to show through. Durant turned the ball over a total nine times while Westrbook gave it away another six, and while they both registered solid offensive statistics the turnovers ultimately cost them in the end. Dallas turned the ball over a total of 13 times, almost half of Oklahoma City’s 25 in total.
On offense, it was Nowitzki that led the way once again with 40 points, but he got a ton of help from his bench as the Mavericks’ secondary scoring came through once again. Jason Terry scored 20 as a reserve, and his plus-19 ratio was the best of any player that took the floor on Monday night. Terrry has been a force all series, and with Brendon Haywood chipping in another nine the Dallas bench outscored the Thunder’s 40-21.
Kidd was another of the bright spots for the Mavericks, demonstrating his patience and leadership on several key defensive plays, while running the offense with precision. None of those plays were bigger than his three-ball with 40 seconds left in overtime to complete the comeback, as Kidd finished with 17 points in the NBA scores.
[adinserter block=”1″]Durant and company now have their backs against the wall heading back to Dallas after consecutive home losses, and will be in tough to bounce back with three straight wins the only option to keep their postseason hopes alive. Nowitzki has been dominant and despite a solid game from Russell Westbrook it still wasn’t enough to get the victory. The Mavericks now have the series lead, momentum, and confidence to put Oklahoma City away, and with game five on Wednesday night it could very well be just a matter of time before it is all over ahead of the 2011 Belmont betting race.
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