Observations from Game 5 between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks inside American Airlines Center on Wednesday night.
*With 8:15 left in the second quarter, Thunder forward Serge Ibaka was whistled for his third foul while guarding Dirk Nowitzki. Nick Collison also contested the shot. When the referee signal the foul was on No. 9, Ibaka pleaded, "No, no, no," while holding up four fingers, selling out his teammate Collison, who wears No. 4.
*Thunder starters shot a combined 20 for 56 from the field (. 357). Meanwhile, subs James Harden (7 for 11) and Collison (6 for 9) shot a combined 13 for 20 (. 650).
*Collison, who finished with 12 points and tied a career postseason high with 12 rebounds, secured his double-double with his 10th rebound and 10th point on a follow dunk with 3:06 still left in the third quarter.
*As he did at halftime in Game 2, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had a chat with an NBA front office official while exiting the midcourt tunnel. "Do you guys tell them (game officials) to let them play, or do they make the decision to let them play?" Cuban asked with the Mavs trailing 55-52 at intermission. "Either way, it's wrong, right?" At the time, Dallas had 10 fouls to OKC's nine. The Thunder was 10 for 13 from the free-throw line and the Mavs were 11 for 12.
*Thunder center Kendrick Perkins, who played 25 total minutes in the Game 4 loss, played all but three seconds in the first quarter and 18 minutes in the first half, but just 10 after intermission when Brooks decided to go with a smaller lineup.
*With 4:30 left in the second quarter, Thunder forward Kevin Durant looked like eerily like Nowitzki while attempting a one-legged step-back jumper from 12 feet. It bounded off the front of the rim.
Brooks, during his pre-game interview session with reporters: "The spirit of this team is good. We're going to play as hard as we can tonight. There's never a doubt in my mind that's not going to happen. They're very competitive. I have a locker room full of gym rats who love to play. They challenge each other. They want to win every free-throw drill, every defensive drill. That's just how they approach the game."