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For the Thunder and its fans, this is no time to panic

by Jenni Carlson Published: May 18, 2011

DALLAS -- Don't hit the panic button, Thunder fans.

I know you're tempted.

Heck, I know some of you have already sounded the alarm.

No doubt the Mavs took it to your beloved Thunder in the opening game of the Western Conference Finals. On a night when pundits agreed the Thunder had its best chance to steal a road game, the Mavs instead opened up a big lead in the first half and kept pouring it on in the second half, courtesy of a record night by Dirk Nowitzki.

Mavericks 121, Thunder 112.

But this series is not over.

Read that sentence again, Thunder fans. Breathe. Repeat.

There is still a lot of basketball to be played. Five or six more games, if I had to guess.

Don't believe me?

Then, believe Kevin Durant.

“It's a series,” the Thunder superstar said. “You don't win a series on just one game.”

Don't lose it on just one game either.

Yes, plenty went wrong for the Thunder. Yes, much has to change before Game 2 on Thursday night. But this is just the opening salvo.

Remember, too, it took a career night from Nowitzki to take control of this game. The big guy was marvelous — 48 points, 12 of 15 field goals and a playoff record 24 of 24 free throws. Shooting 39 times and missing only three of those shots is almost incomprehensible.

Even though he got some great looks Tuesday night, he also made a bunch of shots with a hand in his grill.

“I thought Dirk was pretty good,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks deadpanned.

He cracked a smile because he'd tried everything else against Nowitzki.

“He made some tough shots,” Brooks said. “He's one of the best I've ever seen at that position offensively. A lot of shots you don't think he has a chance of making it, but he does.”

What's Dirk going to do, set an NBA record every game in this series?

Well, I guess he could, but I seriously doubt it.

Consider this — even when Nowitzki did go off Tuesday night and Russell Westbrook hit only 3 of 15 shots and Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and anyone else who tried to guard Dirk got into foul trouble, the Thunder still made a game of it in the fourth quarter.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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