Oklahoma City Thunder in four? The Dallas Mavericks say not anymore.
Raymond Felton and the Mavs were destined to exact revenge after a not-so-pleasurable result in Game 1 Saturday night, and they did what they had to in clawing out a tough 85-84 win over the Thunder on Monday.
Felton led the team with a massive performance of 21 points and 11 rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki added 17 points while an injured Deron Williams scored 13, 11 of which came within the first five minutes of the game.
Oklahoma City struggled offensively all night, Kevin Durant going 7-33 shooting en route to a 21-point, 9-rebound performance and Russell Westbrook tallying 19 points, 14 boards, and six assists on just 8-22 from the field.
The Thunder nearly were saved as the final buzzer sounded, Steven Adams sinking a putback as time expired, but upon review, the basket was ruled off the give Dallas the 'W'.
Unexpectedly, this matchup now heads to Dallas with the Mavericks now possessing home-court advantage, the series being tied at 1-1.
How it all transpired
It was clear from the opening tip this was not the same Dallas team that lost a blowout Saturday night. After their sub-30 percent shooting performance two days prior, the Mavericks came out strong early on, led by the organized backcourt play of Deron Williams and Raymond Felton.
Williams matched Dallas' first-quarter scoring mark from Game 1 within the first five minutes on Monday night, scoring 11 points on 4-4 shooting and playing a team-high 20 first-half minutes despite a nagging hernia that had him listed as doubtful before the contest. The 31-year-old veteran's early spurt helped open up a 15-7 lead for Dallas.
Additionally, Felton had a very efficient start, dropping 11 points of his own in the first half. His jumper with two seconds to go in the first ended the opening period with the Mavericks leading, 24-20.
Oklahoma City had a very hard time offensively in the first and second periods. By halftime they had shot just 35.7 percent from the field and had committed nine turnovers, in large part due to Dallas' evident efforts to get inside the Thunder players' heads.
Westbrook and Durant nevertheless fought ruthlessly to keep OKC within a possession or two while Justin Anderson spearheaded Dallas' spirited efforts early on in the second. The duo worked to tie the game up at 36 with four minutes to go in the half. A Steven Adams free throw soon after gave the home team its first lead since the scoreboard had shown 5-4 in the initial moments of the game.
Dallas reclaimed the advantage with back-to-back buckets by Dirk Nowitzki and Salah Mejri, but Serge Ibaka and Westbrook hit consecutive threes for the Thunder right after to tie up the game and grab a three-point lead at 43-40. Felton helped the Mavericks score five straight to go into halftime up by two. OKC's superstar duo had a combined 23 points and 14 rebounds in the first half while Felton and Williams each had 11 for Dallas.
The Thunder finally found some momentum as the game progressed into the third quarter, escaping the Mavericks' one-possession grasp with six unanswered and an overall 11-3 run to get the second half underway. A Durant deuce made it 58-50 with 5:43 to go in the third, but Dallas answered with a Felton-led surge of six straight to bring the deficit back down to two. Just a few more baskets were exchanged before the third quarter ended, the score 62-59 in favor of Oklahoma City.
Dallas, with a spark from Mejri, got hot to start the fourth, crawling back to take a one-point lead within two minutes of the period's start. However, with a pair of Devin Harris free throws putting the Mavericks up, 69-68, with 8:37 left, the Thunder briefly returned to the form it showcased in the Game 1 thrashing.
A Dion Waiters three-point play instigated an 8-0 run which gave Oklahoma City a seven-point lead at 76-69 and forced Rick Carlisle to call a Dallas timeout. But the Mavericks recovered with their own 10-2 run to retake a one-point lead with just over four minutes on the clock. A Mejri defensive three-seconds gave a key technical free throw to the Thunder, whose star man Durant made no mistake in sinking to tie it all at 79.
Steven Adams and Devin Harris traded baskets and the clock wound down to the final minute with the score an 81-81 tie. Russell Westbrook couldn't hit a three and Felton snatched the board for Dallas, proceeding down the floor to drive past the Thunder defense and lay in the go-ahead bucket.
OKC called a timeout with 24 seconds to go and the ball; they turned to their 'Kid Clutch', Kevin Durant. And Durant missed two shots on the possession. To make matters worse, Wesley Matthews grabbed the second miss and avoided Adams to score a lay-in, putting the Mavs' advantage at two possessions.
The Thunder, however, weren't done yet.
Durant knocked down a three right away to cut the lead to one. And then Raymond Felton missed both his free throws.
OKC missed two shots on their final possession, but Steven Adams was there to tip in a shot as time expired, seemingly winning the game for the Thunder.
Immediately after video review, the call was reversed and the win was given to Dallas.
So the series now heads to the Mavericks' home court at an unexpected 1-1.