OKLAHOMA CITY -- Kevin Durant scored from 18 feet with 1.5 seconds left and the Oklahoma City Thunder nipped the Dallas Mavericks, 99-98, Saturday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs.
Dirk Nowitzki hit a pair of free throws with nine seconds left to give the Mavs a 98-97 lead. Then, Durant, with Shawn Marion draped all over him, tossed up a shot that hit the front of the rim and nestled through the net.
Game 2 of this best-of-seven series will be back here Monday at 8:30 p.m. before the series shifts to Dallas for Games 3 and 4 on Thursday and May 5.
The Mavs were ahead 94-87 with 2:30 left when the Thunder went on a 7-0 run to tie it at 94-all with 1:27 left. Durant hit two free throws, Serge Ibaka converted a three-point play and Durant dunked on a fastbreak for the seven OKC points.
Earlier, the Mavs had their own critical play when the Mavs were trying to negotiate a fastbreak, and Shawn Marion had his layup attempt blocked. However, Nowitzki grabbed the offensive rebound, scored, was fouled, and converted the free throw to put the Mavs ahead, 92-85 with 3:23 remaining in the game.
These same two teams met last year in the Western Conference Finals, with the Mavs winning that series in five games. The Mavs are hoping to advance again at the Thunder's expense.
Dallas carried a 73-69 lead into the fourth period and appeared as though it was going to hold onto it and steal the series opener. But the Thunder had other ideas.
Nowitzki led the Mavs with 25 points, Jason Terry tallied 20, Marion scored 17 and Vince Carter added 13.
Russell Westbrook led OKC with 28 points, Durant scored 25 and Ibaka finished with 22.
The Mavs led at the half, 51-48, but that lead could have been greater. However, after Nowitzki committed a late turnover, Ibaka buried a three-pointer with 1.4 seconds left before intermission to slice the Mavs' six-point lead to three.
This is the fourth time in five games that the Thunder have beaten the Mavs this season.
-- Dwain Price
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