Russell Westbrook rallies Thunder past Mavericks 111-105 as Durant scores 40
By Jeff Latzke ,AP
December 29, 2012, 12:05 am TWN
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Here's a new twist on the Oklahoma City Thunder's budding rivalry with the Dallas Mavericks: With a game coming down to crunch time, Dirk Nowitzki didn't want the ball.
Instead, it was Russell Westbrook who shrugged off a shaky start and closed out a Thunder victory.
Kevin Durant scored 40 points while Westbrook added eight of his 16 points in overtime to help Oklahoma City beat Dallas 111-105 on Thursday night for their 11th straight win at home.
Westbrook turned the game around with six straight points after the Mavs had gone up 104-101 on Chris Kaman's bucket inside midway through overtime. Westbrook had a layup, hit a jumper over the rusty Nowitzki and then made a leaping steal of an O.J. Mayo pass that led to a fast-break layup. The sequence left Mavericks owner Mark Cuban shaking his head in his seat near the team's bench.
Until the end, it had been Westbrook who was frustrated. He missed eight of his first 10 shots and struggled to contain ex-UCLA teammate Darren Collison, who scored a season-high 32 points and hit a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime.
When asked specifically about Collison, Westbrook cut off his postgame interview and cussed on his way out of the locker room.
"He kept fighting and kept fighting for the team," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "I love Russell. I love what he does. I love what he's about. He competes every time. He's a big part of why we're a good team."
Still working his way back into shape, Nowitzki proved to be a liability during Oklahoma City's 17-6 fourth-quarter comeback. He sagged off of Durant far enough that the three-time NBA scoring champion could drill a 3-pointer from the left wing, then was trailing a play when Mayo backed into him and lost the ball to set up Durant's fast-break dunk and three-point play.
In overtime, Carlisle pulled Nowitzki in favor of Shawn Marion for defense at one point. And he wasn't his usual clutch self with the game on the line — as Oklahoma City knows well from the Western Conference finals two seasons ago.
Nowitzki said his knee feels "phenomenal," going as far as saying he thinks the surgery will be good for the rest of his career, but at this point his legs feel heavy.
Serge Ibaka added 19 points and matched his season high with 17 rebounds as Oklahoma City charged back from 10 points down in the final 7:17 of regulation and found a way to win after losing back-to-back games for the first time this season.
After Westbrook put Oklahoma City up 107-104, Mayo was fouled on Dallas' next possession while shooting a 3-pointer. He missed the first two foul shots with 33 seconds left as the sold-out Chesapeake Energy Arena crowd roared louder with each miss.
Westbrook hit two free throws after that to put it away - this time for good.
Collison came up with a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer to send it to overtime after Dallas had given up the lead for the first time since the opening 4 minutes.
Marion inbounded from the sideline with 2.2 seconds left, collected a deflected pass and headed toward the lane before kicking the ball out to Collison, who caught the ball in mid-air and heaved it toward the basket for the tying 3 from the right wing.
Replays showed he released the shot with one-tenth of a second left on the clock.
Kaman ended up with 17 points and Marion chipped in 14 points and nine rebounds for the Mavericks, who were swept on a treacherous three-game road trip that featured stops at West contenders Memphis, San Antonio and Oklahoma City despite getting Nowitzki back. Dallas has lost seven of eight to fall to 12-17.
Dallas had been 11-1 this season when leading at the beginning of the fourth quarter and 11-2 after holding a 10-point lead or larger.
Oklahoma City had won 12 in a row before losing back-to-back games at Minnesota and Miami.