DALLAS — Kevin Durant crouched down on the NBA Playoffs logo on the American Airlines Center floor, unable to walk any further.
As the Mavericks' celebration swirled around him, the Thunder superstar didn't move. The end had come, and the reality hit hard.
Dallas 100, Oklahoma City 96.
“We wanted this game to be a tough physical game, and it was,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We battled the whole 48 minutes, but we came up short.”
The Mavs won the NBA Western Conference Finals, besting the Thunder in five games.
Two nights after blowing a 15-point lead with less than five minutes remaining in Game 4, the Thunder took a seven-point lead with a little under six minutes left. But when the Mavs scored seven of the next nine points, all of them from the free-throw line, it sparked a 17-6 run that sunk the Thunder.
The disappointment of Game 4 didn't carry over to Game 5, but the inability to finish did.
“We're not ashamed at how we played,” Brooks said. “We fought through every game (in this playoff series). I knew our guys would leave everything on the floor. That's how they're wired. That's how they're built.”
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said, “Oklahoma City is a great young team. They played with unbelievable fight and spirit. All the games I've been involved with ... this was the hardest.
“Their time will come, but it's not now.”
Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion led the Mavs, each scoring 26 points. Combined, they scored 23 of the Mavs' 28 points in the fourth quarter.
Russell Westbrook had a game-high 31 points, while Durant and James Harden added 23 points.
Despite the Thunder's big three coming up huge, the Mavs were just too much. Dallas scored 10 points in its last four possessions, while Oklahoma City managed only two points on its last six possessions.
“It's hard,” Harden said. “We let our last two games slip away. There's no excuse. We had two opportunities, two great opportunities with leads at home and on the road.
“We just have to close those games out. There's no excuse. We just have to be better.”
The Thunder will have the offseason to try and cure what ails them. They have about five months before the season opener.
Five long months.
“It's kind of shocking,” Durant said, “that our season is over.”