Fourth-quarter shooting: A. Everyone knows about James Harden's fourth quarter – 16 points, most on snaky drives to the basket. But the reason Harden had space to work was the 3-point threat. The Thunder made just six of 18 3-pointers through three quarters, but Daequan Cook opened the period with a 3-pointer off a Harden pass, and Kevin Durant sank two 3-pointers in a three-possession span that gave the Thunder an 88-88 tie. The Mavs realized they had to respect the long-range shot.
Defending Jason Terry: A. After the game, Scotty Brooks' favorite topic wasn't James Harden's offense. It was Russell Westbrook's defense. Westbrook defended Terry most of the fourth quarter, holding him to just two shots, both misses, and one of the shots came with eight seconds left, with the game effectively over.
Defending Dirk Nowitzki: B. Nowitzki was sensational, with 34 points, and almost shot the Thunder out of the game in the third quarter, when he scored 12 points. But Serge Ibaka's defense stiffened in the fourth quarter, when Nowitzki made just one of eight shots. He finished 10 of 25 from the field. That's excellent defense considering the Thunder played most of the game without Kendrick Perkins, who suffered a hip strain. Perk occasionally guards Nowitzki and always helps out inside. The only downside was the Thunder fouled Nowitzki too much – he went 13-of-13 from the line. Ibaka fouled out with 2:14 left and Nick Collison finished with five fouls.
Thunder fans: A. Thundermania didn't exactly take over American Airlines Center, but hundreds of OKC fans made the trip south and got tickets in the market that went soft after Dallas' Game 3 loss. Every Thunder basket was followed by rousing cheers. And the savviest of the Thunder crowd wore orange Thunder shirts, to differentiate from the blue T-shirts that
3-point defense: D. The Mavs made just 12 of 45 3-pointers the previous two games but scorched the Thunder with 10 of 19 shooting. OKC stiffened in the fourth quarter, but the reason Dallas built such a big lead was its outside shooting.
Some of that is about getting hot. But more of it was defensive lapses allowing Jason Kidd, Terry and Vince Carter open looks.
Bench: A. The Thunder reserves outscored Dallas' reserves 52-23. James Harden, you know about. But Derek Fisher was superb. When Fisher was on the court, the Thunder outscored the Mavs by 21 points. Go back and read that again. Fisher had 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, with three rebounds, one assist and one blocked shot. Collison played stellar and hit two huge foul shots with 2:02 left.
Halftime adjustments: D. The Thunder did not match the Mavs early in the third quarter in either strategy or intensity. The Thunder offense failed to produce good shots the first four minutes of the half, while the Mavs got Nowitzki the ball in scoring position and quickly took command.
Ball security: B. The Thunder had eight turnovers in Game 3 but in Game 4 committed turnover No. 8 with 2:50 left in the second quarter. The Thunder was much better in the second half – zero turnovers in the fourth quarter.