By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Oklahoma City beat Dallas 107-101 on Sunday night, beating the Mavericks for a 10th consecutive time. Here’s some rapid reaction:
With the teams deadlocked at 101, the game was condensed to 80 seconds. And down the stretch, OKC made all the plays. Russell Westbrook started it with a silky mid-range jumper, breaking the tie, and Kevin Durant followed it up with a brilliant defensive stop, stuffing a Mike James shot and forcing a critical turnover, which gave the Thunder the ball, up by two, with less than 30 seconds left.
It was over when…
…Thabo Sefolosha (yes, Thabo Sefolosha) iced it with a fadeaway jumper. At times this season (a breakout offensive year for Sefolosha) it seems he can get lost in the fray. His value is under-appreciated and his skill set can be underused (you can say that for a lot of guys on this stacked team). But with the shot clock running down, the ball in his hands and the floor spread, Thabo received his teammates trust. And the veteran two-guard delivered, sealing it with that fadeaway dagger, putting the Thunder up four with 12 seconds left.
Star of the game – Kevin Durant
By his standards, KD had a relatively quiet night through three quarters. But OKC’s unquestionable closer was at his clutchest (is that a word?) in the final 12 minutes. He went 7/10 shooting for 19 points in the fourth, keeping the Thunder in it with a variety of off-balance leaners, long-range treys and shots at the rim. Plus, he did this to Vince Carter (who cares if it didn’t go in):
Durant was incredible in the fourth. But Russell Westbrook was just as good a quarter before. And in this tightly-contested ballgame, that was just as important. Westbrook kept the Thunder afloat during an offensive lull, scoring 15 of the team’s 23 third quarter points, including a personal 9-3 run on the Mavs at one point. And just like KD’s ankle-breaker, Westbrook had an eye-popping highlight of his own. No guard dunks as violently as Russell:
Stat of the night
Thunder-Nuggets in OKC on Tuesday night. Should be an interesting one. Denver has won 11 straight, the longest current streak in the Western Conference.