Mavericks rally again, clinch West titleMay 26, 2011 - 6:07 AM Dallas, TX (Sports Network) - Oklahoma City will look back at two straight losses with late-game leads. In the meantime, Dallas is looking ahead to its first NBA Finals appearance since 2006.
One game after rallying from 15 points down with under five minutes to go, Dallas rallied from an eight-point, fourth-quarter hole to capture the Western Conference crown with a 100-96 victory over the Thunder in Game 5.
Dirk Nowitzki drained the go-ahead three with just over one minute to play, part of a 26-point, nine-rebound night. Shawn Marion also scored 26 points with eight rebounds and J.J. Barea donated 14 points for Dallas, which won the series, 4-1, and will face either Miami or Chicago in the NBA Finals.
"Our goal now is to win four more games no matter who we play in the Finals," Mavs guard Jason Terry said. "This time around it's even going to be more special. We're going to leave it all out there on the floor and this is what you play for."
Russell Westbrook scored a game-high 31 points with eight rebounds and five assists and Kevin Durant totaled 23 points, but the duo combined to make just 19-of-48 shots. James Harden added 23 points and Nick Collison recorded a 12- point, 12-rebound double-double off the bench.
The message Thunder head coach Scott Brooks provided after the game was one for the future.
"(He said) just keep our heads up and to know that we're going to get better next year and come back and stay together," said Westbrook.
Oklahoma City looked to have the Mavericks where it wanted them, up eight in the fourth quarter, just over nine minutes from a date back on its home court. Yet, it seemed Dallas was the one in a better position, and almost inevitably closed strong for the second consecutive contest.
After Westbrook lost the ball during contact under the opposing basket, Nowitzki drained a straight-on three for a 95-94 lead with 1:14 to play. Eric Maynor missed badly on the other end, and Collison's attempt at a save led to a transition slam by Marion, who was fouled on the play and made the conversion with 48.9 seconds left.
Westbrook attacked the rim on the next possession, drawing a whistle and making both foul shots for a two-point margin, 98-96. The Thunder forced a tough shot by Nowitzki, but a loose ball wound up in Marion's hands, and Nowitzki was fouled with 13.3 seconds to go. He made both free throws, and the Thunder missed a pair of long heaves out of desperation in the closing seconds.
Dallas scored the game's first six points, but Oklahoma City soon settled in, taking a 21-19 lead on Westbrook's three-point play. It carried a one-point edge into the second stanza, then scored seven in a row -- capped by Harden's long-range shot -- to make the score 38-30.
The Mavericks drew within two late in the half, and the Thunder held a tenuous 55-52 advantage after 24 minutes of game action.
Dallas took the lead, 65-63, with just under five minutes left in the third stanza on a Peja Stojakovic three. But the visitors didn't relent, as Durant drilled a trey and Collison finished off a slam to put the Thunder back in front. Two Harden free throws ended a nine-point blitz for a 72-66 edge, and the Thunder held a 76-72 lead with 12 minutes to play.
Oklahoma City built an eight-point cushion on Westbrook's pull-up jumper with just over nine minutes to play, but it slowly started to erode down the stretch.
One game after scoring 40, Nowitzki was an efficient 8-of-15 from the floor...Jason Kidd had 10 assists to just one turnover for the Mavericks...Tyson Chandler collected nine rebounds to go with nine points before fouling out for Dallas...Maynor scored five points in defeat...Only six players on Oklahoma City scored compared to all nine Mavericks who played...The Mavericks lived at the charity stripe, making 31-of-36 overall.
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 96
May 25 11:46 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 76
End of 3rd
May 25 11:02 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 55
May 25 10:11 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 27
End of 1st
May 25 9:35 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 0
1st Quarter - 12:00
May 25 9:07 PM
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