Back On Top: Thunder Take 2-1 Series Lead Behind Historic Shooting Night

Thursday, April 21st 2016, 10:45 pm
By: Brett Coppenbarger

After dropping Game 2 at home in shocking fashion, the Thunder was ready for redemption on Thursday night in Dallas. Fresh off his worst postseason shooting game of his career, Kevin Durant totaled 34 points and led his team to a 131-102 victory along with a 2-1 advantage in the series.

Related: Thunder Social Scene

Oklahoma City set a franchise postseason record with 15 three-pointers in the win.

In what was a physical game regardless of what the scoreboard flashed, Russell Westbrook’s tenacious personality came in handy as he scored 26 points and 15 assists, but no play was more memorable than his final shot of the game.

With the Thunder winning by 26 points, Westbrook squared up for a 1-on-1 matchup with Dallas forward Charlie Villanueva, who notoriously interrupted Westbrook’s pregame dance routine with Cameron Payne before Game 2. After jabs were exchanged through the media over the last couple of days, it was Westbrook who got the last laugh.

Using his quickness, Westbrook shuffled his feet to make Villanueva adjust for a potential drive to the lane, but the move instead freed Westbrook up just enough for a quick elbow jumper over Villanueva’s outstretched arm. Westbrook’s shot tickled the twine to put OKC up 28 points, and the point guard made sure Villanueva knew all about it as he ran back down the court.

Turns out, that was both Westbrook and Durant’s final play as the duo was able to rest throughout the final 3:55 of the game after building up the gargantuan lead. While OKC’s “Thunder Buddies” were the stars of the show as usual, they weren’t the only two to raise their level of intensity after Dallas tied up the series.

Dion Waiters checked into the game halfway through the first quarter with the Thunder leading by two points, and within two minutes of stepping on the floor, Waiters had finished off an and-1 layup over Zaza Pachulia, and then drilled a corner 3-pointer just one possession later which sparked an 8-to-0 Thunder run.

Waiters was the bench MVP in the first quarter, but the second frame belonged to Enes Kanter. The Turkish big man kicked off the quarter with a nifty post move, and then was a pivotal piece in an 11-to-1 Thunder run in which Kanter scored five of the points while hauling in multiple rebounds.

OKC led by double digits at intermission, but a quick 11-to-2 run to start the third quarter by Westbrook, Durant and Serge Ibaka put OKC up 19 points as they never allowed Dallas to get within single digits the rest of the way.

Despite the lopsided score, the Mavericks still showcased a lot of fight in front of their home crowd. To prove they weren’t going to be pushed over, the second half featured a tussle between Raymond Felton and Steven Adams which led to double technical fouls, along with a brief skirmish between Dirk Nowitzki and Andre Roberson.

Kanter finished with 21 points and eight rebounds, while Waiters added 19 points and Serve Ibaka drained 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting. OKC shot 57.7 percent (45-78) from the field and 55.6 percent (15-27) from behind the arc.

Wesley Matthews led the Mavericks in scoring with 22 points while Felton was stellar all night with 18 points, four assists and four steals. Nowitzki added 16 points while Justin Anderson was a force off the bench with 12 points.

The Thunder and Mavericks will play in Game 4 on Saturday at 7 p.m.