OFFENSE DOWN THE STRETCH: A. The Thunder never got in a great rhythm, but they willed an offense by attacking the basket. The Thunder scored on 11 of its last 15 possessions. The Thunder had just 11 foul shots with 61/2 minutes left in the game but made nine of nine the rest of the way, including three three-point plays.
LATE-GAME STRATEGY: A. Scotty Brooks switched Kendrick Perkins onto Dirk Nowitzki in the final two minutes, and Perk prompted Nowitzki into a miss and a steal, keying the Thunder comeback. Moving Russell Westbrook onto Jason Terry for much of the fourth quarter also helped; Terry didn't take a shot in the final 10 minutes.
EARLY GAME STRATEGY: C. Brooks didn't play Thabo Sefolosha much when Terry was on the court – their rotations never have aligned – and two early fouls on Sefolosha didn't help. But in this series, Sefolosha is going to have guard Terry more. Terry made eight of nine shots through three quarters and had 20 points, though he didn't score in the fourth. Sefolosha played just 18 minutes.
HALFTIME ACT: D. I'm sure bucket drummer Peter Rabbit kept a good beat. But bucket drummers rank about as high as trampoline dunkers on the entertainment scale.
HANDLING DISCOURAGEMENT: A. After the first six minutes or so, the Thunder led for just 134 seconds. That's a long time to play from behind. But the Thunder never let Dallas get on too big of a run and always stayed close. The biggest lead for the Mavs was eight. Biggest lead for the Thunder was four, in the first three minutes.
REVELRY: A. This wasn't like the Laker series two years ago, when the crowd was yelling like banshees 20 minutes before tipoff. But the blue-shirted mob got loud quickly. And their pals outside showed up, too, with a street party on Thunder Alley watching the game on a big screen.
JAMES HARDEN: B. Hard to be too tough on Harden, who had 19 points on just seven points and was the Thunder's only aggressor for much of the game. But Harden also had five of the Thunder's below-average 14 turnovers. Protect the ball a little, and Harden will be dominating.
NATIONAL ANTHEM: A. Excellent rendition by Rob Clay.
DEFENDING DIRK: B. Brooks threw Ibaka and Nick Collison at the Mavs' All-Star before going to Perkins late. The Thunder was effective early, but Nowitzki got hot late, plus he got 10 foul shots. That's too many.