Bench Leads Thunder to Game 2 Win over Mavericks

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:24 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: May 19, 2011 11:8 PM CDT

Corey DeMoss
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

DALLAS – The Oklahoma City Thunder rode a phenomenal night from its bench to a 106-100 victory over the Dallas Mavericks Thursday in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.

The Thunder entered the fourth quarter leading 77-76 and had 27 points from its bench, so head coach Scott Brooks elected to keep his bench players in the game. As OKC continued to hold Dallas at bay, Brooks continued to keep the same players on the floor.

The result was that Kevin Durant was the only starting player on the court for almost the entire fourth quarter, and Russell Westbrook received no playing time in the period.

Instead the Thunder relied on the offense running through James Harden and Eric Maynor, and they did not disappoint. The two combined to score 14 of the team’s 29 fourth-quarter points, including two key 3-pointers from Harden.

"I didn't want to mess with the rhythm," Brooks said. "It had nothing to do with Russell. Eric was playing good basketball for us."

Oklahoma City led by as much as 10 points in the fourth quarter, but Dallas fought back to make things interesting down the stretch.

The Mavericks went on a quick 6-0 run to cut the lead to four, and Dirk Nowitzki had the chance to cut things to a one possession game with 36 seconds left. But he missed a key free throw to end a streak of 39 consecutive makes, and the Thunder ran the clock out from there.

After dropping 48 points in Game 1 of the series Tuesday, Nowitzki was not much of a factor in the first three quarters of Game 2. He had just 13 points and three made field goals, but began taking over in the fourth.

During one of the Mavericks’ late runs, he scored six of the team’s eight points and scored a total of 16 in the frame to finish with a game-high 29. But his performance was not enough to overcome OKC’s bench.

Harden finished with 23 points on the night, and the bench as a whole scored a total of 50, nearly matching the output of the five starters. Harden, Maynor, Nick Collison and Daequan Cook each finished with +/- values of +10 or higher, while no starter had a value better than +3.

Kevin Durant was more subdued after his huge scoring output in Game 1, and finished with 24 points. But he shot 11-of-23 from the field and tied for the team lead with four assists.

The victory gives the Thunder a split of two games on the road to begin the Western Conference Finals. The teams will travel to Oklahoma City for the next two games, with Game 3 beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday.