Kevin Durant-powered Thunder rout Mavs, take 3-0 series lead
Dallas, TX, United States (AHN Sports) – After struggling offensively in the first two games of this quarterfinal series, Kevin Durant scored a game-high 31 points on 11-of-15 shooting, and the Oklahoma City Thunder dismantled the Dallas Mavericks 95-79 Thursday night at American Airlines Center.
It gave the Thunder a commanding 3-0 lead and pushed the reigning NBA champion Mavericks to the brink of elimination.
Though he drilled the game-winner in the closing seconds in this series opener, the three-time NBA scoring champion Durant was a combined 15 of 44 (34.1 percent) in the first two games.
On Thursday, Durant, this past regular season’s leading scorer, was back to his efficient self, helping the Thunder off to a quick start and Oklahoma City never trailed the entire contest.
Durant poured in 15 points in the opening quarter, including three 3-pointers as Oklahoma City raced to a 28-13 lead, before the Mavs drew within 32-26 with a 13-4 run to close the period. Durant was 8-of-10 in the first half.
Dallas tried to build off the momentum as it cut the deficit to seven late in the second period, but failed to sustain the rally with just 15 points. The Mavs tried to mount another one early in the second half, but its offense can only muster 16 points in the third frame.
OKC’s potent one-two punch of Durant and Russell Westbrook pushed the lead to 60-48 with 7:21 left in the third.
Durant, who was 4-of-6 from 3-point range, nailed his final three-pointer with 4:54 left to give the Thunder a 26-point lead.
It marked the first time Durant reached the 30-point mark in these playoffs.
Westbrook finished with 20 points, James Harden scored 10 and Serge Ibaka filled the stat sheets with 10 points, 11 boards and four blocks for the Thunder, who shot an overall 42.4 percent and made 12-of-18 triples.
Dallas, which shot just 34.2 percent from the field, was paced by Dirk Nowitzki’s 17 markers. Jason Kidd added 12 and Jason Terry finished with 11 in the loss.
Game 4 of this best-of-seven series is set for Saturday night in Dallas.
The Mavericks face a tough challenge as they avoid becoming the fifth defending champion in NBA history to be knocked out in the first round of the playoffs since the 2006-07 season.