James Harden’s career night helps Thunder sweep Mavs
Dallas, TX, United States (AHN Sports) – The Thunder made sure there would be a different NBA champion this season with James Harden scoring 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter as Oklahoma City completed the series sweep of the Dallas Mavericks 103-97 in Game 4 Saturday night at American Airlines Center.
It was sweet revenge for the Thunder, who got bounced in last year’s Western Conference Finals in five games by the eventual champion Mavericks.
Kevin Durant added 24 points and 11 boards, while Russell Westbrook had 12 points for the Thunder, who faced an 81-68 deficit entering the fourth quarter after the Mavs exploded for 34 points in the third frame.
It was the largest lead of the series for Dallas, which appeared to be ready to at least force the series back to Oklahoma City.
A Jason Terry triple hiked it to 86-73 before Harden unloaded seven in a row- – on a three-point play and two other baskets.
Harden then keyed the Thunder’s 12-0 run after they trailed by 13 points with 9:44 left. The 22-year-old reserve shooting guard scored nine in that spurt and a pair of assists for 3-pointers by Durant, who scored nine in the final frame.
Harden, who shot 11-of-16 from the floor, 3-of-4 from the 3-point range in notching his playoff career-high 29 points, also had five boards, five assists, three steals and one block in 34 minutes of action.
Dirk Nowitzki, the only Maverick to consistently score throughout the series, kept Dallas in the game with 34 points, but he did not get much support from his teammates, including Terry, who only managed 11 points on 4-of12 shooting.
The Mavericks became the first defending champions to be swept of the opening round of the playoffs since 2007, when the Heat was swept in four games by the Chicago Bulls in the opening round, after Miami defeated Dallas in the 2006 NBA Finals.
The Thunder await the winner of the Los Angeles Lakers-Denver Nuggets series.