Jose Calderon found himself wide open from 25 feet out, the hottest shooter on the floor with a hand-delivered opportunity to send the game to overtime.
Then minutes later, the Thunder left Dirk Nowitzki by his lonesome, one of the greatest shooters in the game’s history with an unopposed look that he can drop in his sleep.
Splash. Splash. Mavs 128, Thunder 119 in overtime.
A wild, competitive, playoff-level game that could have gone either way.
But a Thunder loss that can be blamed on too much Nowitzki, too much Calderon and far too many defensive lapses with the game on the line.
“I thought a couple plays down the stretch we could have done a better job securing the rebound and contesting their shots,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
The first came with 30 seconds left in regulation, with the Thunder leading by three. After a cold-blooded Kevin Durant triple, Nowitzki missed a potential answer. But the ensuing rebound — a 50-50 ball that could have potentially secured the game had it gone OKC’s way — was corralled by Brandon Wright.
Wright fired it out to Calderon at the top of the key. Tie ballgame.
“That was big,” Durant said.
With the shot, Calderon not only forced overtime, but also pressed Brooks into an intriguing decision. With Russell Westbrook on a minute restriction, and having already played 30, Brooks sat his All-Star point guard to start the extra session.
And by the time he brought Westbrook back, with two minutes left, the Thunder was in a seven-point hole. After the game, Brooks said he didn’t regret the decision, and Westbrook said he didn’t mind.