*The Thunder made three shots in the final 10 minutes, by Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha. The Thunder missed 13 shots, and it was no coincidence. Teams generally miss bad shots. Westbrook missed five shots; Durant missed six.
But hey, give the Mavericks credit. Down 15 with legs worn out chasing around Durant and Westbrook for 43 futile minutes, it would have been easy for Dallas to shut it down and think about Game 5. Heck, one or two makes by the Thunder, one or two misses by the Mavs, and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle would have emptied his bench.
Instead, Carlisle emptied his chamber. Dirk Nowitzki, who had been bottled up in the second half by Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison, exploded for 12 points in the final 4:34, including nine in a four-possession span.
“We have a group of guys that are veteran,” Carlisle said. “We've got some really high IQ guys that know each other's strengths.”
The Mavs' lineup that last five minutes of regulation consisted of three 33-year-olds (Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry), 28-year-old Tyson Chandler and 38-year-old Jason Kidd.
Ponce de Leon himself hit the game-winner, a 3-pointer with 40.3 seconds left that broke a 105-105 tie.
The poorly named Kidd is everything the Thunder is not. Old. Wise. Close to the hardwood when he jumps. Savvy. Tough at the end of games.
And in command of the NBA's Western Conference Finals.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.