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Thunder holds off Mavericks in Game 2

BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, Modified: May 19, 2011 at 11:01 pm •  Published: May 19, 2011

DALLAS — Dirk Nowitzki tried to tell everyone his record-setting performance that carried Dallas to a win in Game 1 wouldn't mean a thing if his Mavericks lost Thursday.

This is what he meant.

The Oklahoma City Thunder stole homecourt advantage with a 106-100 win in Game 2 of this Western Conference Finals, stunning a sold out American Airlines Center crowd before heading back home for the next two games and a chance to take a commanding series lead by Monday night.

With the victory, the Thunder also seized every morsel of momentum the Mavs had. Oklahoma City snapped Dallas' seven-game winning streak in these playoffs, found a much-needed solution for slowing Nowitzki and showed all those Maverick sharp-shooters can be stopped.

“That was a heck of a win for us,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.

Because nearly everything the Thunder needed to do, it did. Because nearly every category that cost the Thunder in Game 1 completely flipped in Game 2. After getting thoroughly outplayed Tuesday, the Thunder's reserves regained control of the battle of the bench, outscoring their counterparts 50-29. The Thunder's defense, which yielded 121 points and 53 percent shooting in Game 1, pestered the Mavs into just barely cracking triple digits while lowering their field goal percentage to 43 percent in Game 2.

“They were just more aggressive,” said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle. “They were more aggressive defensively, and they attacked harder offensively. They took (the loss in Game 1) personally, and they responded well.”

But the most significant development was perhaps the Thunder's defense on Nowitzki. The 10-time All-Star toyed with the Thunder to the tune of 48 points in Game 1. He made 12 of 15 shots and didn't need to attempt a 3-pointer.

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