DALLAS — "We didn't crumble," three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant said after the Thunder's 103-97 series-clinching victory over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 on Saturday night.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle had a more graphic description.
"They came at us like a buzz saw in the fourth quarter," Carlisle said. "They made plays, we couldn't stop them and they were able to stop us enough."
Trailing 81-68 through three quarters, OKC blew the doors off the American Airlines Center by outscoring Dallas 35-16 in the final period to end the first-round playoff series as early as possible.
With Kendrick Perkins out with a hip injury since the first quarter, the Thunder went with an array of hodgepodge lineups and found itself on the ropes after getting outscored 34-21 in the third quarter.
Then came the buzz saw.
It began with a driving 10-footer from sixth man James Harden with 9 1/2 minutes left, which started a 12-0 spurt in slightly more than three minutes.
When Kevin Durant hit his second straight 3-pointer 3 1/2 minutes later, the Mavs' 13-point lead had evaporated, and the score was tied at 88.
With 3:00 left, OKC had completed a 23-5 run to take a 96-91 lead.
From there, it was a matter of being able to trade baskets, which was no small feat playing the defending world champions, who were fighting for survival at home.
Though his team scored 35 points in the final 12 minutes, Thunder coach Scott Brooks insisted the buzz saw was fueled by the OKC defense, which resulted in Dallas shooting 22.2 percent (4 for 18) from the field and scoring 19 fewer points.