As the season is coming closer and closer, we’re going going to bring you our thoughts of the top 20 games since the Thunder moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City. We broke it down to about to about 50 games, and then narrowed it down to 20. We decided most were going to be wins, we had one game that was a loss in the top 20, and it’s easily the most memorable lost. Well, for me at least. Let’s Recap 11-20: #20, #19, #18, #17, #16, #15, #14, #13, #12, #11. Now onto The top 10:
When: April 28, 2012
Location: Oklahoma City, OK – Chesapeake Energy Arena
Final Score: Oklahoma City Thunder 99, Dallas Mavericks 98
Big Players: Serge Ibaka 22 points, 6 rebounds, 5 blocks
Oklahoma City finally won a high level playoff spot, and who they do they have to face? The Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs eliminated the Thunder in just five games last post season. However, these aren’t the same Mavericks who won the World Championship the year before. This team limped into the playoffs. Yet, they still had Dirk Nowitzki. He’s a beast. He did his best in this game to keep Dallas in it.
It wasn’t a pretty game by any means. However, after trailing basically the entire game. It came down to the final :1.5 seconds of regulation. Kevin Durant was able to hit a floater that bounced off the front of the rim, off the back board, and that fell in with :1.5 seconds left. Dallas’ Vince Carter was not able to get a shot off, and Oklahoma City stole a victory inside of their own building over the defending world champions, 99-98. The win gives the Thunder 1-0 series lead.
Oklahoma City came out fired up, Russell Westbrook had 11 first quarter points, including 9 of the first 13 points for the Thunder. Oklahoma City couldn’t stop the Mavericks from really getting to the rim and scoring. The Mavericks stunned a sold out Chesapeake Arena, as they led 26-22 after one quarter.
“Everyone knows they [dallas] are much better than a 7 seed. ” Said coach Scott Brooks.
The first half was the Jason Terry show. Terry led all scores in the first half with 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Oklahoma City had a couple of leads, but it wasn’t much because of players like Terry, who found a way to make a key shot every time Oklahoma City seemed to be trying to change the momentum.
Oklahoma City fell down six points lead in the second quarter, then James Harden hit a three late, and then Serge Ibaka was able to hit a three, his first of the season, cutting the Dallas lead to 51-48 at halftime.
The second half, saw a little bit more aggressive play by Oklahoma City as they attacked the rim, and came out quickly, grabbing the one point lead to start the third quarter. Again, the Mavericks were able to pull away.
Oklahoma City took the lead at 66-64 with 3:36 left in the third quarter, but the Mavericks outscored the Thunder 9-3 down the stretch to take the 73-69 lead into the fourth quarter.
Dallas really led most of the fourth quarter. Even with 2:31 left to go in the game, the Thunder trailed 94-87. Then the Oklahoma City defense really just turned it up.
The Mavericks were 0-2 from the floor, including 2 turnovers, their final four points came from the free throw line.
Ibaka and Durant really just took over. Both combined to score the final 12 points of the game.
None was more important than the final one. With :9.0 left on the clock, Dirk Nowitzki had just hit two free throws, giving the Mavericks a two point lead. Oklahoma City inbounded the ball off a timeout, allowing Durant to drive to the lane, then hitting the shot.
“I like how he got to a place where he could pull up to the defender. ” Coach Brooks talked about the final play, “If the shot wasn’t going in, Serge was in perfect position for a tip.”
Oklahoma City would go on to win the series 4-0 on a dramatic fourth quarter run. (see game #16), and eventually lose in the NBA Finals to the Miami Heat.