Nowitzki's Big Night Lifts Dallas to Win over Thunder

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

Originally Published: May 17, 2011 11:17 PM CDT

Gerald Goodridge
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

DALLAS -- A record-setting performance from Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki lifted the Mavericks to a 121-112 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

The veteran power forward set an NBA record for the most free throws attempted without a miss, with a 24-of-24 performance from the charity stripe. Nowitzki finished the game with 48 points and six boards, while shooting 12-of-15 from the floor.

Oklahoma City overcame a slow start and responded with an 18-6 run in the first quarter to take a 27-20 advantage to start the second quarter. But the offense dried up in the second 12 minutes.

The Thunder went nearly scoreless for a four-minute span, while Dallas scored 13 unanswered points – including five from Nowitzki – to take a seven-point lead. The two squads matched scores for the closing minute of the half to head into the locker room with Dallas leading 55-48.

Kevin Durant did his best to keep Oklahoma City in the game and makeup for the bad second quarter, scoring 10 of the Thunder’s 12 points in the opening four minutes of the half. However, Dallas answered and Oklahoma City could only cut the deficit to five points, trailing 64-59 with 7:45 left in the quarter.

The Thunder cut the lead to three points, but just two minutes later Dallas rattled off eight unanswered points – six from Nowitzki – to take an 11-point lead at the 5:00 mark in the third quarter. The Mavericks held that lead and started the closing 12 minutes leading OKC 90-79.

Trailing 104-89 with 6:40 left in the contest, Oklahoma City came roaring back in an attempt to make it a close game to close it out. Sparked by a Serge Ibaka jumper, the Thunder scored 10 unanswered points, four coming from Durant, to close to five points.

But that’s where the comeback ended. Dallas matched Oklahoma City’s pace for the game’s final three minutes of the contest to close out the Game 1 win.

Overshadowed by Nowitzki’s big night, Durant finished with 40 points, while grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out five assists in the loss. Coming off of a triple-double in Game 7 of the semifinals, Russell Westbrook struggled in Game 1, shooting 3-of-15 from the floor to finish with 20 points thanks to free throws.

Dallas got big production from its bench in the win, 24 points from Jason Terry – including 12 from behind the arc – and 21 from J.J. Barea in just 16 minutes of play.

The series will continue at 8 p.m. Thursday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.