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Mavericks build huge lead, hold on to defeat Thunder in Game 3

BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, Modified: May 21, 2011 at 10:55 pm •  Published: May 21, 2011

The opening minutes had the look and feel of a movie we've all seen before.

The Thunder had been through this so many times there was no real cause for concern. In the back of your mind you might have thought Oklahoma City always bounces back, even when things are brutal.

But then the missed shots kept mounting, and the turnover count kept climbing. Seven minutes in, this turned into a horror flick. And the Thunder had no answer for the bad guys from Big D.

A nightmarish start swung the momentum in this Western Conference Finals squarely back to Dallas, as the Mavericks used a dominant opening quarter to waltz to a wire-to-wire 93-87 win in Game 3 on Saturday night at Oklahoma City Arena. The Mavericks took a 2-1 series lead and regained home court advantage just two nights after the Thunder stole it first with a tough Game 2 victory.

Dallas outscored the Thunder 27-12 in the first quarter to set the tone for what was in store for much of the final three. The Mavs used a renewed defensive effort to swarm the Thunder with double teams, traps, contested shots and a clogged paint. The Thunder missed 13 of its first 17 shots, a 23.5 percent shooting clip, and turned the ball over seven times. In the first six minutes, the Thunder went 1-for-7 with four turnovers.

“We just did not play well from the start,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.

The game was all but decided in those first 12 minutes.

It took three minutes for the Thunder to score its first field goal. When it looked like the worst had passed, the Mavs pressed the gas and put on a ball movement clinic offensively to run away. The 15-point first-quarter deficit grew to 23 in the first two minutes of the second period. The Mavs assisted one another on 10 of their first 14 made field goals.

The Thunder spent the next 29 minutes playing catch up. Dallas' lead stood at 22 with 8 1/2 minutes left in the third period and was at 18 with 1:30 left on the third-quarter clock. OKC didn't get it back to single digits until Russell Westbrook scored on a driving layup with 6:33 left to play.

“It's really tough to come back from 20 down,” said Nick Collison. Box Score: Mavericks beat OKC 93-87

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