Thunder collapse; Mavs take 3-1 lead

May 23 2011 - 11:26pm

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(ERIC GAY/The Associated Press) Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki shoots over Okla-homa City’s Nick Collison in Game 4 on Monday.
(ERIC GAY/The Associated Press) Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki shoots over Okla-homa City’s Nick Collison in Game 4 on Monday.

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Dirk Nowitzki scored 40 points, Jason Kidd hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 40 seconds left in overtime and the Dallas Mavericks overcame a 15-point deficit in the final 5 minutes of regulation to stun the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-105 on Monday night and take a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Dallas didn't lead until Nowitzki hit two free throws 16 seconds into overtime, needing to rally from a 99-84 deficit in the final 5 minutes of regulation. The Mavericks never let the Thunder -- who were one win shy of tying an NBA record with eight OT wins in the regular season -- go ahead in the extra period.

Kevin Durant missed a 3-pointer on Oklahoma City's opening possession of overtime then didn't get another shot until he missed a 3 off the front rim in the final 10 seconds with the Thunder down by five.

Durant finished with 29 points and 15 rebounds, and Serge Ibaka had 18 points and 10 boards for Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook added 19 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

Game 5 is Wednesday night in Dallas.

The Mavericks handed Oklahoma City its first consecutive losses of the postseason and first back-to-back home losses in six months.

"We worked really hard these two games to win, and none of that guarantees anything for Game 5. We know that," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "All of us involved with this team have been through a lot of these wars. We understand our position that we're in. We respect it. We're very humble about it.

"We've got to get ourselves revved up and ready for Wednesday, because that's an opportunity."

Only two teams have come back from 3-1 deficits in NBA history without the benefit of home-court advantage in Game 7 -- Houston in the 1995 West semifinals and Boston in the 1968 East finals.

"There's no doubt it was a tough loss," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "If this loss did not hurt, there's no such thing as a loss that can hurt you."

Durant had nine of the Thunder's 26 turnovers, including the one that led to the big shot by the 38-year-old Kidd.

Kidd stripped him as he went up for a shot with just over a minute left in overtime, then took a pass from Nowitzki, pump-faked to get Westbrook in the air and stepped up and drilled a 3-pointer to put Dallas up 108-105 with 40.3 seconds left.

"Everybody asks questions about the age and all that other stuff, but the thing I'd say to anybody is, 'Never underestimate greatness,"' Carlisle said.

Westbrook missed on a drive on Oklahoma City's next possession, and Jason Terry hit two free throws with 13 seconds left to give the Mavs a two-possession lead. Durant finally got another shot off, squatting with his head hanging down as Kidd walked up for two free throws to provide the final margin.

"We kept believing," Nowitzki said.

* NOAH FINED $50,000 BY NBA FOR REMARK TO FAN: Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was fined $50,000 on Monday for directing an anti-gay slur at a fan during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, and vowed to learn from the incident.

The NBA released its decision hours after speaking with Noah, saying the fine was "for using a derogatory and offensive term from the bench."

The fine is only half of what Los Angeles Lakers' star Kobe Bryant was assessed for shouting the same slur toward a referee last month, and the league said the discrepancy was because the sanction against Bryant was based on both what he said -- and who he said it to.

"Kobe's fine included discipline for verbal abuse of a game official," NBA spokesman Mark Broussard said.

Noah and NBA officials met Monday morning. Noah said he emerged from that talk prepared to "pay the price" for what happened when he returned to the bench with two fouls midway through the first quarter of Sunday night's game against the Miami Heat.

That price turned out to be 1.6 percent of his roughly $3.1 million salary this season. Noah agreed to an extension last year, worth about $60 million through the 2015-16 season.

Meanwhile, two major advocacy groups quickly called upon the league to both sanction Noah and help further educate players on the topic.

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