Dallas, despite Dirk Nowitzki growing cold after an 8-for-8 start, found a way to match Durant almost shot for shot. James, the 37-year-old Dallas point guard, put on a scoring spree of his own, scoring eight straight Mavs points to keep them in it.
Nowitzki later nailed four straight free throws to tie the score at 101, but Russell Westbrook (game-high 35 points, six rebounds and six assists) hit a 17-foot jumper and the Thunder forced the Mavs into a shot-clock violation. After 23 seconds of swarming defense, the defensive possession ended with Durant blocking a desperation shot by James as the clock expired.
Sefolosha then swished his baseline jumper that all but ended it, and the Thunder forced Vince Carter into a missed layup before Durant iced the game with a pair of foul shots.
“Every time we play Dallas we should just start the game and say it's a two-minute game, zero-zero,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “Every game seems to come down to the last two or three minutes of the game.”
The victory was the Thunder's 10th straight over the Mavs and booked its 50th win of the season, the third time in four years that OKC will have won at least 50 games.
Serge Ibaka scored 18 points with a game-high 16 rebounds and three blocked shots to help the Thunder control the paint and out-rebound the Mavs 46-34. Westbrook scored 31 of his points through three quarters, including 14 in the opening period and 15 in the third frame.
“Everybody has a role and everybody has to believe in that role and try to make the best of that role and embrace that role,” Brooks said. “And I thought our guys did that tonight. There were so many opportunities for guys to step up and they did.”
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