If this is "homecourt advantage," no wonder Thunder lost.
The Oklahoma City Thunder: With five minutes and five seconds left in the fourth quarter, Kevin Durant drilled a three-pointer to put the Thunder up 99-84. The 15-point bulge was Oklahoma City's biggest lead of the night. Durant's triple seemed like a knockout blow and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle immediately called a timeout to rally his troops.
But, c'mon, seriously. The Oklahoma City Arena was going bonkers. The Thunder had all the momentum. And, anyway, the Mavericks had accomplished their goal in Game3: They had stolen a road game and reclaimed homecourt advantage. It was time to pack their bags and try to get back to it at home in Game 5. Right?
Said Brendan Haywood: "You're lying if you're not surprised. Down 15 with 5 minutes to play you're thinking hopefully something can happen. You're just kind of wishing."
Wishing, huh? Well, somebody on the Dallas roster must have rubbed a genie the right way or something, because the Mavericks closed out the fourth with a 17-2 run to force overtime.
Let's check out OKC's "offense" during that final five minutes of fail: Russell Westbrook missed three; Serge Ibaka missed 6-footer; Westbrook missed 17-footer; Westbrook turnver and foul on Jason Kidd (giving Kidd two free throws); Durant missed 22-footer; Durant missed three; Nick Collison offensive rebound; Westbrook made two-pointer; Westbrook 0-for-2 at the line; Westbrook missed 15-footer; Durant turnover; Westbrook missed 16-footer; Westbrook loose ball foul (giving Shawn Marion two free throws); Thabo Sefolosha missed three-pointer; Durant missed desperation three from 30 feet (blocked by Marion at the buzzer).
As Chuck Barkley would say: TURRIBLE.
Things didn't improve much for the Thunder during the five-minute overtime period. Here's their "offense" in OT: Durant missed three; Sefolosha made jumper; Westbrook missed three; Westbrook turnover (stepped out of bounds); Ibaka made 17-footer; Durant turnover; Westbrook missed jumper; Durant missed desperation three; Durant missed desperation three.
Make it a total of 6 points over the final 10 minutes and five seconds of playing time in this game. At home. With a playoff series on the line.
According to ESPN Stats and Information: "The Mavericks are the only team in the last 15 seasons to win a playoff game in which it trailed by 15 or more points with 5 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter."
Said Jason Terry: "There's times and situations where they are going to test the courage and the mental inner strength of your team. This was one of those times. This was a defining moment in our season where we look back and say, 'Hey, that was the game.'"
Meanwhile, when the Thunder look back on their season, this will probably be the defining moment where they look back and say, "Hey, that was the game where we blew our chance to go to the NBA Finals."
Said Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks: "There's no doubt it was a tough loss. If this loss did not hurt, there's no such thing as a loss that can hurt you. ... It goes without saying that it was a tough loss to accept, but it is a loss and we have to learn from it. I thought our guys played as hard a basketball game as you can play. They were physical, we challenged shots, we struggled a little bit down the stretch with execution and throughout the game we struggled with turnovers."
Oklahoma City's ball-handling: The Thunder gave up 26 points off 26 turnovers, offsetting hefty advantages in rebounds (55-33), points in the paint (54-36) and fast break points (19-6).
Kevin Durant's butter fingers: KD committed 9 of his team's 26 bumblefucks, including what may have been the biggest of the game. With 1:01 left in OT and the score tied at 101-101, J-Kidd stripped Durant as he was going up for a shot. On the other end, Kidd pump-faked Westbrook out of his shorts and then nailed a three with 40.3 seconds left. And that was pretty much the ball game.
Man, for a dude who can't shoot worth a damn, Kidd hits some big shots.
Speaking of threes...
Oklahoma City's three-point shooting: The Thunder had a historically bawful night from beyond the arc in Game 3, going 1-for-17, thanks largely to Durant's 0-for-8 festival of clank. Things didn't get much better in Game 4 as OKC went 2-for-13. KD hit the only two triples his team made. He also missed five others. But, in all fairness to him, three were desperation shots.
James Harden: He fouled out in only 23 minutes of PT. And his absence might have cost the Thunder the game. According to ESPN Stats and Information:
As mentioned the Thunder were outscored by 15 points in the final minutes of regulation, and a lot of that was because their offense changed drastically when James Harden fouled out at the 4:48 mark. Prior to Harden fouling out, the Thunder focused their offensive attention on the inside game. After Harden fouled out, though, the Thunder settled for long-range shots, missing their only two field goal attempts inside of 15 feet in the last nine minutes and 48 seconds of the game.
The Thunder's lackluster offense without Harden was also exposed in the pick-and-roll game. The Thunder ran 25 pick-and-roll plays prior to Harden fouling out but ran just two afterward. The transition offense also stalled, with the Thunder picking up 17 points on 14 transition plays prior to Harden fouling out. Afterward, the Thunder failed to score on their only transition play. This postseason, Harden has scored the eighth most points as a pick-and-roll ball handler and the sixth most transition points.
Best of the Night: Dirk Nowitzki: More from ESPN Stats and Info:
A huge part of the Mavericks comeback was Dirk Nowitzki who finished with his second 40-point game this postseason (both this series) and seventh of his career. After shooting 60.0 percent from the field in Game 4 and 80.0 percent in Game 1, the Elias Sports Bureau tells us that Nowitzki is the first player to record two games with 40 points while shooting at least 60.0 percent from the floor in the same playoff series since Shaquille O'Neal had a pair of games like that for the Los Angels Lakers in the 2000 Finals against the Indiana Pacers. For his playoff career, Nowitzki is 10-1 when he scores more than 35 points with his only loss coming in a 42-point performance in 2001 against the San Antonio Spurs.
Oh and if that's not enough, Nowtizki is 48-for-50 from the free throw line this postseason including the two clutch game-tying free throws he drained with six seconds left in regulation of Monday’s win.
Give Dirk his props. Dude is awesome.
Dirk: "Fuck you, Physics."
Jason Kidd's matador defense: Why even put a hand out there, Jason?
Kevin Durant, quote machine: "It's not over."
No it's not. It will be after Game 5, but it's not over yet.