GAME 2: THUNDER 106, DALLAS 100 (May 19; American Airlines Center): OKC coach Scott Brooks started the fourth quarter with the makeshift lineup of Durant, Harden, Nick Collison, Eric Maynor and Daequan Cook and clinging to a one-point lead. A 14-5 spurt put OKC ahead by 10 with 3:15 remaining and the Mavs lost for the first time at home in the postseason.
Afterthought: In Game 1, Dallas reserves outscored the Thunder bench 53-22. In Game 2, OKC reserves outscored the Mavs' bench 50-29. “You can't mess that chemistry up,” Durant said. “Coach made a good decision by doing that.”
GAME 3: DALLAS 93, THUNDER 87 (May 21; Oklahoma City Arena): Playing at home for the first time in the conference finals, OKC was tight early. The Mavs jumped out to a 27-12 lead after the first quarter and led 65-44 with 17½ minutes to go. The Thunder stormed back to within four points on two occasions in the final 24 seconds but could get no closer as Dallas took a 2-1 series lead.
Afterthought: The big stage undoubtedly got in the heads of OKC's young roster, though no one admitted such. Gallant as the Thunder's comeback was, it had given back the advantage it had earned with the upset victory in Dallas.
GAME 4: DALLAS 112, THUNDER 105-OT (May 23; Oklahoma City Arena): Leading 99-84 with less than five minutes remaining, the Thunder seemed to have evened the series at 2-2. Instead, the series completely flipped. Behind clutch play from Nowitzki (40 points) and Jason Kidd (17 points; go-ahead 3-pointer in OT), the Mavs closed with a 17-2 surge and never led until overtime.
Afterthought: Make a wish, Dallas. “You're lying if you're not surprised. Down 15 with five minutes to play, you're thinking hopefully something can happen,” Mavs center Brendan Haywood said afterward. “You're just kind of wishing.”
GAME 5: DALLAS 100, THUNDER 96 (May 25; American Airlines Center): In the aftershock of one of the worst collapses in playoff history just two days earlier, the Thunder impressively owned a six-point lead with 4½ minutes left in this one. However, the Mavs closed the game with a 14-4 run and took the lead for good on a Nowitzki 3-pointer with 1:14 remaining to close out the series.
Afterthought: Dallas no doubt was deserving of the NBA Finals and went 12-3 in the playoffs to get there, but the Thunder blew back-to-back opportunities to win Games 4 and 5. Credit the Mavs, but OKC helped them along the way.
BY JOHN ROHDE