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Bad sign: OKC Thunder is growing up & closed it out against Dallas Mavericks

115594071_crop_650x440The young team that was so young this time one year ago obviously no longer needs pullups at night time. The team that was so unable to close in the Western Conference Finals in 2011 did so when their best player overcame a bad shooting night to make the one that mattered.

OKC Thunder 99 Mavericks 98
Thunder lead the series 1-0 

The Mavs were better nearly the entire game, and blew it. Turnovers late killed them.

This is not 2011.

The defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks NBA professional basketball team followed the same script used in 2011, and leaned on Dirk Nowitzki in the fourth quarter to take the lead late. Dirk scored 11 of the Mavs' final 13 points, including a pair of FTs with nine seconds remaining for a one-point lead.

Despite Shawn Marion hounding Kevin Durant and guarding him as well as a man can, KD managed to score from the foul-line with an off-balance, heaven-kissed bounce-in for the game's final points with less than two seconds remaining. Great shooter usually gets the shooter's bounce.

"He made a great shot. The only other thing we could have done was double team him, get the ball out of his hands, and we should have done that. That's on me," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle told the media after the game. "We had a seven point lead with 2:20 to go. We have to close that out. There are some mistakes we have to avoid."

Durant made just 10-of-27 shots, but who cares? When the shot had to be made, he did it. 

The Mavs made 10-of-22 from 3-point range. They out-rebounded the Thunder, 42-36. The Mavs had 11 steals. Dirk was dominant in the fourth quarter.

It didn't matter. 

The Thunder are growing up.



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