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OKC Thunder: Grading the Thunder's 95-79 victory over Dallas in Game 3

REPORT CARD — Oklahoma City's defense on Dirk Nowitzki and bench were key.
by Berry Tramel Published: May 3, 2012

Defense on Dirk: A. The trio of Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison made Dirk Nowitzki look ordinary. He finished with 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting. Nowitzki's frustration throughout the night was apparent, even at the foul line, where he's usually gold but made just five of eight.

Bench: A. Hard for the Thunder to get a good grade here without James Harden (10 points, 3-of-10 shooting) playing a tip-top game. But two straight games now Derek Fisher has found the fountain of youth. He scored 10 points, including two buckets on drives, and even ran down long rebounds like it was 2002. Daequan Cook missed his first three shots, then nailed three 3-pointers in a three-minute span in which the Thunder extended its lead from 70-57 to 86-60. And Nick Collison's defense was big. After Serge Ibaka went to the bench with his fourth foul and the Thunder leading 66-55, Collison held Nowitzki in check and the Thunder extended its lead.

Photo op: A. The Mavs placed the 2011 Larry O'Brien (NBA championship) Trophy in the front concourse so that fans could pose for pictures. Excellent public relations.

Finishing quarters: C. The Mavs outscored the Thunder 13-4 over the last two minutes of the first quarter and scored 15 points on its final six possessions. Then Dallas outscored OKC 8-2 over the last three minutes of the second quarter, keeping the Mavs within striking distance (50-41) at halftime. But the Thunder outscored Dallas 7-0 in the final 3:23 of the third quarter to blow open the game.

Thursday's box score: Thunder 95, Mavericks 79

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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