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Jenni Carlson: Thunder got even the Harden way

by Jenni Carlson Published: May 20, 2011

Read that again.

Harden had a huge performance in the biggest game of the season.

What he did throughout the game, but especially in the fourth quarter, is the kind of thing that does more than help Durant. It helps the whole darn team.

“No question,” Thunder reserve Daequan Cook said. “He gets to the basket, and he draws a lot of attention. That gives us an opportunity to swing ... or another player to get to the basket.

“When he's playing that way, it's hard to really guard us.”

Case in point — the Thunder shot a sizzling 64.7 percent in the fourth quarter.

“You got to think about it — when he's playing good, we win,” Cook said. “We win big.”

Durant said: “James Harden was great for us tonight. He knows he has to be good off that bench for us to win, and he did it tonight, came through and made some big plays.”

None was bigger than that four-point play at the end of the third quarter.

Only moments before, Westbrook had committed the turnover that earned him a seat on the bench. He fouled Jason Kidd on the play, leading to free throws and letting the Mavs take the lead.

The Dallas crowd was alive.

The Mavs were, too.

Then, Harden eyed the shot clock, decided to shoot and changed the game.

The shot silenced the crowd, but it also seemed to take something out of the Mavs, too.

“I just had confidence in my jump shot,” Harden said. “I had so much space I wanted to just rise up and shoot it and hold my follow through.”

He didn't just hit the shot.

He hit the Mavs square between the eyes.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
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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