The unthinkable came true Monday night.
Less than 48 hours after getting humiliated, the Mavericks came back to steal Game 2, winning 85-84 and evened the best-of-seven first round series against Oklahoma City at a win apiece.
An unlikely crew -- along with Dirk Nowitzki -- propelled the Mavericks back into the series with a gritty display of heart.
Raymond Felton hit a driving layup with 28.7 seconds to play to put the Mavericks ahead, 83-81. Felton played a big role as the Mavericks came back from a 78-73 deficit midway through the final period.
The Thunder survived a loose ball that went off of Salah Mejri. Then they got a couple of shots by Kevin Durant, who couldn’t buy a bucket all night while getting dogged defensively by Wesley Matthews. The second miss got tipped out and Matthews came away with it for a driving layup with 14.4 seconds left, putting the Mavericks up 85-81.
The Thunder still went to Durant, even though he was 6-for-31 from the floor at the time. He delivered a 3-pointer with 9.5 seconds left to make it 85-84.
When Felton missed both free throws with 7.1 left, the Mavericks were up precariously 85-84.
The Thunder got a miss by Durant and a tip-in before Steven Adams tipped in the bucket. The referees counted the bucket, but the video review ended with the call being overturned and the Mavericks escaping with an incredible win.
The Mavericks were in position for the shocker, but three possessions in the middle of the fourth quarter cost them dearly.
After Justin Anderson, who had a strong game off the bench, missed a difficult driving layup, Dion Waiters converted a three-point play for the Thunder to put them up 71-69. Felton threw a bad pass that led to a dunk by Kevin Durant, who was having a miserable shooting night as he was hounded by Matthews’ rock-solid defense, but threw down the jam with authority.
When Nowitzki and Anderson both missed, the Thunder drove down and when Westbrook almost lost the ball, he somehow flipped it to Serge Ibaka for a 3-pointer and a 76-69 Thunder lead with under 7 minutes left.
The Thunder had a strong history in the regular season of folding late. They had lost 14 games when they had taken a lead into the fourth quarter.
And so, when the Mavericks were just three points down after three periods, they had every reason to be optimistic.
The lead bounced back and forth as the physical play escalated and the referees tended to swallow their whistles.
The Mavericks led by as many as eight points in the half and were up 45-43 at the break.
It clearly was the tempo that coach Rick Carlisle was looking for.
And the Mavericks were getting superb defense out of Wesley Matthews against Kevin Durant, who was on his way to a horrendous shooting night.
Through three quarters, Durant was 5-for-23 from the field.
It wasn’t all Matthews’ doing, but he certainly had a big part in holding down the high-scoring Thunder forward.
The one problem was that Williams began limping badly in the middle of the third quarter.
It seemed unlikely that he would return to the game.
Nevertheless, he had helped get the Mavericks right where they needed to be -- in the Thunder’s shadow going into the fourth quarter. They had fallen behind 62-59, but OKC’s history of fourth-quarter problems this season had been well-documented.
Clearly the Mavericks were in position to shock the Thunder.
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
‘Fans will have a great time in Qatar during the World Cup’
Al-Attiyah jumps to overall third at Rallye Du Maroc
European football ‘united’ as Ukraine added to Spain, Portugal 2030 World Cup bid
Finch finds form as Australia edge past West Indies
India will monitor Shami’s fitness ahead of World Cup
Fritz recovers from Covid to advance in Tokyo
Showtime as Hawks face Bucks in NBA’s Gulf debut
Verstappen says rain could ‘spice up’ Japanese GP
Tributes paid on death of Jim Redmond, who helped his son hobble to Olympic finish line