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Fasten your seat belts, Thunder-Mavs series might be a wild ride

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said: “We're going to keep coming at these guys. Trust me.”
by Berry Tramel Published: April 29, 2012

Good news for the Thunder: Kevin Durant shot poorly until that feathery jumper in the final seconds that wouldn't have broken an egg shell but broke Maverick hearts.

Bad news for the Thunder: The old Russell Westbrook indeed has returned, now two games running, and Serge Ibaka produced a monster game. And still the Thunder needed a bounce just before the buzzer to beat the seventh-seeded Mavericks.

The Thunder beat Dallas 99-98 Saturday night in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series. Typical Thunder-Mavs.

Close all the way. Dallas beat OKC in five games of the 2011 West finals, with no game decided by double digits. Saturday night, neither team ever led by double digits.

So sit down, buckle in and get ready for a wild series.

“We're going to keep coming at these guys,” said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle. “Trust me.”

You don't have to convince us. With Jason Terry drilling jumper after jumper — hey, when is that guy going to graduate? — the Mavs looked very much like the team that last May denied the Thunder the NBA Finals.

Making life miserable for Durant. Getting efficient offense from Dirk Nowitzki even when his shot was off. Shawn Marion playing out of his mind. Terry being Terry.

But unlike last year, when the Thunder found a way to lose, the Boomers found a way to win.

Credit galore to the Durant shot with 1.5 seconds left that bounced off the front rim and fell through. But even more credit to Westbrook and Ibaka, who played huge on such a big stage.

Westbrook, mired in an April slump, had 28 points and five assists. He made 13 of 23 shots and kept the Thunder going when Durant kept missing shots. Westbrook broke out of his malaise against Denver in the regular-season finale, and if he keeps playing like this, the Thunder will ride high.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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