DALLAS — The familiar chant echoed around the American Airlines Center in the final moments of the game.
Not “Let's go Mavs!”
On a night when Dallas was looking to take a commanding lead in the NBA Western Conference Finals, Oklahoma City stole a game on the road instead.
Thunder 106, Mavs 100.
With Dallas fans heading to the exits before the final buzzer Thursday night, the several hundred Oklahoma City faithful made their allegiance known inside an otherwise silent arena.
“I heard it, I heard it,” Thunder sharpshooter Daequan Cook said of the chant. “It's just amazing how much fan support we have and where we've come from as a team, as an organization.”
No doubt about that. After a Game 2 victory, the Thunder only needs to hold serve on home hardwood to win this series and go to the NBA Finals.
Think about that.
A franchise that won on 23 games two seasons ago is now only three wins from the NBA Finals.
The series now moves to Oklahoma City for a pair of games, the first at 8 p.m. Saturday, the second at 8 p.m. Monday. Win both of them, and the Thunder will be in the driver's seat in this series.
And after Thursday night, a couple wins at the Oklahoma City Arena seem entirely possible. The Thunder won Thursday even though four of its five starters — Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha — played a combined 50 seconds in the fourth quarter.
Oklahoma City's second string plus Kevin Durant took control of this game in crunchtime.
“It was aggressive,” Westbrook said of the bench, “and they got us the win.”
Every bit as important to the Thunder was the defense that it played against Dirk Nowitzki. Two nights after the Dallas star scored 48 points, he scored only 29 points.
He went to the free-throw line 24 times in Game 1.
In Game 2, he got there only 10 times.
“I thought we did a good job of really getting into him and not allowing him to really lace it up and just shoot over our head,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We did a good job, but it's still not easy.”
Nowitzki said, “They wanted it more. They deserved to win.”
The Thunder halted the Mavs' seven-game winning streak in the playoffs, and now, Oklahoma City is looking to go on a winning streak of its own.
“Any series, if you want to win it, you've got to win on the road,” Cook said. “That's what we did.
“Now, it's our turn to go home and protect our house.”