DALLAS — All season, Thunder players have talked about playing 48 minutes. They discovered Saturday night at American Airlines Center what can happen if they play four solid quarters. They can compete with a veteran Mavericks team, on the road, start to finish.
Dallas escaped 103-99 thanks to a combined 74 points from Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry. But this probably was the Thunder’s best game. "From the beginning of the season we’ve felt we could play with anybody if we brought our A game,” said Kevin Durant. "It would have been good to come out with a win. We don’t like moral victories. But I think we took a big step forward. We just have to build on this and learn how to win at the end of games.” The Thunder led 54-50 at halftime and was tied 93-93 with 3:38 to play. A Nowitzki 3-pointer with 2:54 to play was a back-breaker. "I like the professionalism we brought to the court tonight,” said coach Scott Brooks. "Our guys are growing right in front of our eyes. That’s important. ... If we continue to play like we did tonight, we’re going to come away with some wins.” Oklahoma City’s final lead was 91-89 with 5:35 left. The Thunder trailed 99-97 with 1:27 to play, but two turnovers in the waning minutes were critical. "We have to take better care of the ball in the fourth quarter, but our guys continue to battle,” Brooks said.