Thunder Squeeze Out Another Close One





OKLAHOMA CITY – Four or five more like this and the winner of this Thunder-Mavericks series might need help getting out of the bed for Western Conference semifinals.

Their budding rivalry has suddenly turned physical, nasty even, with shoulder shrugs and forearms from Dirk Nowitzki and Kendrick Perkins early (see above), marking their latest episode.

The Thunder emerged from the rubble to claim their second straight narrow win over the Mavericks Tuesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena, surviving 102-99 on free throws in the final minute from Kevin Durant and James Harden. Durant made two with 50.4 seconds left and Harden hit four more foul shots to close it out for the Thunder, who had to rally for the win after leading by as many as 16 points early.

Russell Westbrook, who torched the Mavericks for the second straight game, finished with a team-high 29 points to carry the Thunder. Durant finished with 26 and 10 rebounds, but is just 15-for-44 from the floor in these first two games.

“We knew these guys were going to play physical, they are a physical team,” Durant said. “The refs did a great job of letting us play. We just have to continue to take that punch from them and do a great job of sticking together. Games like these in the playoffs are going to get chippy.”

Jason Terry missed two 3-point shots from the left wing in front of the Thunder bench in the final seconds, either one of which would have tied the game. The Mavericks led in the final minute of both games here only to lose both times in the final seconds, with Durant’s jumper with 1.5 seconds to play providing the difference in Game 1.

The Thunder lead the defending world champions  2-0 as everyone packs up and heads down the interstate for Game 3 Thursday night in Dallas.

“We leave here disappointed but not dismayed,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “We just haven’t made enough plays. It’s tough. There’s no question about that. They’ve made one more play than we have in both games and that’s how playoff basketball is. As my good friend Ron Washington would say, ‘That’s how baseball go sometimes.’ You have to give them credit for what they’re doing. We can’t dig ourselves into a 16-point hole in the first half. I loved the way we fought back. The guys hung in their and kept their poise. They held serve and we have to go home and hold serve.”

The tennis analogy seems inappropriate, given the mixed martial art nature of the action on the floor in Game 2. And you can bet things are going to get even more intense Thursday night with the Mavericks seeing their home crowd in the playoffs for the first time since Game 5 of The Finals.

They’ve been smashing each other from start to finish since the opening tip of Game 1, cultivating a genuine disdain for each other that has grown like a weed out of their testy matchup in the Western Conference finals last year.

There were 54 fouls called and 71 free throw attempts between the two teams in Game 2 of this series. But the fireworks actually started early, when Nowitzki and Perkins exchanged blows and words in front of the Thunder bench with 5:04 to play in the first quarter. Nowitzki, still smarting from an incidental smack on the face from Serge Ibaka from a previous possession, gave Perkins a shoulder to the chest after he and Perkins wrestled for position in the paint. Perkins retaliated by shoving him back and they were quickly separated by teammates and game officials.

Double technical fouls were issued to Nowitzki and Perkins, and players from both sides barked back and forth. Carlisle even had words with Perkins as the Thunder big man was being restrained by Thunder coach Scott Brooks and others.

“It’s just grown men out here playing basketball and teams trying to advance,” Perkins said. “You know, you’re just out here playing. There’s nothing to hurt nobody or nothing like that. Neither side is going to bow down. They’re not, we’re not, so we’re just out here playing and competing on a high level.”

The chippy play continued all night.

“Look, it’s playoff basketball, it’s physical,” Carlisle said when asked if the physical play in the series has crossed the line. “We don’t like the cheap shots when they give them. And they don’t like them if we give them … but the dirty bull[expletive]‘s got to stop. We don’t want anybody getting hurt, either way. Either way.”

Nowitzki, who led Dallas with 31 points, dismissed the dust-up with Perkins as just playoff basketball.

“He tried to bully me, I bullied back a little bit,” he said. “We talked about some stuff and moved on.”

He also promised that the defending champs will not back down and will absolutely not hand over the crown without a fight.

“We’re not going to give it to them,” he said. “They’re going to have to take it.”


77 Comments

  1. Karlo Garcia says:

    Perkins always makes it look worse when he’s involved!

  2. dm says:

    gotta say this tho..OKC is a great team and lots of teamwork to win two games….just don’t like Ibaka and perkins…they are on the court b/c they are fat like Shaq…..and mark cuban is an idiot trading big guys and leaves brandon haywood running like a little girl at the team…

  3. jovdelmar says:

    crazy how many free throws OKC gets considering they just mostly do jump shots.. and when the game is close, expect them to get more free throws. not saying anything about the refs, just stating facts and what went on with the game.

  4. BenS says:

    As long as the Miami Heat do not win the Championship… I will be happy if any of the other teams win it all. Among the so called big 3 in Miami, Bosh is the most likable. The other 2 are just too arrogant. Sorry am just no liking Miami …

    • milesfan says:

      think you may be confusing confidence with arrogance…LBJ does as much or more for the community than most ATHLETES (not just basketball players)…lot of people have a problem with certain young guys being sure of themselves

  5. jmASt says:

    OKC fans.. so you’re saying ur team is a beast in the west?? so tell me how nervous you are in the closing plays of those two damn lucky games?? and your calling those game winner by durant a clutch? tell me he didnt have a lucky bounce. im tired of those BS OKC fans whose freaking arrogant about their 2-0 but MAvs could have taken this 2-0 lead but thats to the refs -__- btw Goodluck to both teams in games 3. dont ruined this damn good series by your arrogant words OKC fans!. no one else can predict wat will happen. just try to remember those semis sweep by lakers. /swt

  6. Miguel says:

    as much as i hate seeing the Mavs lose,,,i love seeing OKC win it all…they’re young and exciting and also fun to watch…

  7. Raptor says:

    The refs are taking care of this series, nothing new here. Phantom calls all the way for NBA’s protegee, the Thunder.

  8. Roger That says:

    wow i seldom see nowitzki get mad.. perkins did the 1st elbow..you can see it a the video when he posted up dirk.but dirk manage to doge it..and at the rebound he pushed dirk …and dirk just box-out perkins and pushed dirk and that’s why he got an elbow in the face. and then he got mad..ahahah

  9. Renato says:

    Once again the Thunder beat the Mavs.but this time,Dallas just wasn´t able to capitalize on the Thunder´s misses in the forth quarter.Nowitzki missed an incredibly open three pointer in what was one of the decisive plays on the game. Nowitzki by the way,had a poor fourth quarter.And once again,Westbrook carried the Thunder the whole game,scoring 29. I feel sorry for Jason Kidd right now.He isn´t able to contest one single shot from Westbrook and has been a non-factor from the three point line.Things don´t look good for them as the series shift to Dallas,specially if Durant starts to play at his natural level.

  10. Advance says:

    What is the chance of coming back down by 2 games. Possible but not likely! Westbrook has mature a lot compare to last year. Dallas might find a way to control him but remember Durant is still cold-handed. Harden and Ibaka can also contribute offensively. last year you probably don’t see Harden taking shot near the end of the game. Barea also gave WB a lot fo problem last year too! Dallas will win two game as the most.

  11. dattebayo says:

    In game 1 Dirk got hit hard on two drives in the early game and even the commentator Hubi Brown said there should have been foulcalls and Nowitzki should have been at the line. In Game 2 Ibaka hits Nowitzki in the face after contesting his jumpshot and no referee sees it, which is just ridiculous. So don’t tell me the refs are somehow giving Nowitzki calls, they are not.

    Durant had a lot of questionable foul calls called in favor for him and there even was a foul call on the Matrix, when Durant hit Marion in the face with the ball and flopped like Marion stripped him even though his arms were straight up. I don’t mind the refs calling the game a certain way, like calling every little contact or letting a lot of stuff go. They have to be consistent and I have not seen consistent refereeing throughout both games.

    I hope Dallas will tie the Series up, they will have to get Terry somehow involved though. The Thunder will have stretches where they are not hitting jumpers and it will cost them games, letting Dallas back in the game after leading by 15 is prove of that…

    • Jblow says:

      Whatevs

    • OKCKD35 says:

      @DATTEBAYO – Are you serious? Your statement almost seems as though you are joking. Yes there was a no call on Ibaka smacking Dirk in the face. But does that give Dirk the right to run up and elbow Ibaka in the back? (also a no call) you can complain about fouls all you want, the fact of the matter is that in the 3rd quarter the thunder were already in the penalty 3 minutes into the quarter. thats 5 fouls called on OKc with none on Dallas. Durant also had a lot of “no calls” for instance the “air ball” he threw up when Marion clearly stopped his shooting motion by hitting his forearm with no call. All the times he drives the lane and they werent calling anything but clean strips. Calls go both ways, OKC got calls early, Dallas got the calls to get back in the game (see dirks free throw parade (he had 6 in a minute in a half in the 2nd. Dallas continued to get calls throughout the 3rd quarter then it evened out by the end of the game

  12. TTKIN says:

    Love Dallas but OKC is advancing. I dam near smell a sweep. It has gotten depressing watching Dallas fold in the final minute of both games. They should be up 2-0 and heading home right now (did anyone think of how amazing that is?!?!)

  13. Lakers#1 says:

    This series is great, the best so far! OKC got lucky. The series could just as easily be 0-2 at this point. Mavs need to stop OKC from getting to the free throw line. OKC are shooting 95 percent from there! 1/3 of all the points come from that position. Mavs also need to set screens for Jason Terry. Terry basically got closed out by Westbrook so he needs help.

  14. Rhishabh Deshpande says:

    The Dallas Mavericks are a veteran gritty team.They are not going to quit.They will give a hard fight.And those who criticize Dirk Nowitzki , It’s High time that you notice.Games 3 and 4 are going to be tough but the Mavericks have an edge.With Veteran leadership I think the Mavs have a legimate chance to beat Thunder.

  15. PC says:

    Yeah, this series would be much better than it is already now if both teams can just hit shots..!!
    As for as the bullying; Dirk bullies with words – Perkins bullies physically. You can’t throw the entire blame on one player and have the other player become not at fault. Perkins will not back down from anything and Dirk is the same. However, D-Nowitzki is just more subtle and calm and does a better job at “pretending” to be the innocent bystander than Kendrick Perkins. In other words, it’ll take a bit more to get Nowitzki riled up while a single tap on Perkins’ shoulder will boil his head up.

    All in all, just my opinion, OKC will probably win, they have more game closers with ratio 3-1 or maybe even 2. The Jet isn’t knocking down shots especially with Thabo and Harden’s young legs for defense. Dirk can put up his usual numbers, but one man cannot bail a team out anymore. The 1-2 punch of Westbrook and Durant is unbreakable as far as scoring at will as long as they hit those shots and free throws, they will bring home a series win. But Sir Charles is right, missing all those jumpers will come back and haunt the Thunder good.

  16. milesfan says:

    all the Dirk apologist need to cease and desist…if you’re gonna be a true superstar and not a media/referee darling you have to play like a man…he overreacted and instigated the incident with Perkins…to his credit he said all the right things after the game…can’t say the same thing about Carlisle though

    • DM8488 says:

      your exactly right

    • that's true .. but says:

      changing the subject to the Series, i see the Thunder struggling worse in Dallas. I can easily see Dallas drawing even with home-court after 4 games and this Series going to Game 7. Now that’s what i call playoff basketball. As for all the niggle between these teams? That’s the spice that makes a series even better.

      • milesfan says:

        agree…this defintely has the makings of a tough, down to the wire 7 game series….wouldn’t count the Mavs out either

  17. JC Ellis says:

    Wow. How can you not love Kendrick Perkins? Best scowl in the NBA!!

  18. radyo dinle says:

    I really hate Kendrick Perkins because he always fight with all players

    • Daddy W says:

      Pah der he merse a sher He always fight with other players? Who does he fight with? Rah-tard

  19. Dwane Hoelscher says:

    This is a a tough physical series and the Mavs are frustrated. Kevin Durant’s shooting woes will not last forever. When he breaks out of it, Dallas will really see what kind of team OKC has. As far as the foul shooting is concerned, it is very simple. The Mavericks are too old and slow to keep up the young legs of the Thunder. Their only defense is to foul and hope they miss their charity shots. Good luck with that, becasue the Thunder foul shooting % is one of the best ever in NBA history.

  20. Roy says:

    Don’t get too excited Thunder fans. You’re team isn’t winning the championship this year. They don’t have the defense for it and as much as I like Russell he doesn’t have the decision making to win close games. Score all you want it doesnt matter if you cant stop the other guys when it counts. Just know that its gonna get even harder next round when Bynum and Bryant dominate you guys. (im not a laker fan btw)

    • Valid says:

      Considering Kendrick Perkins bumped and bruised Dwight Howard in 2010 to take the Celtics to the playoffs, and the fact that Thabo Sefolosha is the proven Kobe-stopper, you’d better be joking about the Lakers beating OKC. LA has three players that can play, and NO bench. OKC has a lock-down defender, two premier scorers, and two great paint-presences PLUS players that can score off the bench and defend.

    • Ken says:

      Lakers have dominated Mavs this year, but they have not & will not dominate OKC. Lakers know they can’t beat OKC or SA.

    • Mike says:

      You havent seen all the Laker-OKC games this year yet!!!!!

    • QuestionMark says:

      Sefolosha is one of the best defenders in the league, and unfortunately for Kobe, he plays the same position as him, plus Ibaka is the top shotblocker in the league and Perkins is a big body on Bynum, OKC also leads the league in blocks, plus Durant is quite possibly a better scorer than Kobe, Harden is the 6th man of the year, and Westbrook is just a terrific PG. Sorry but Lakers don’t have a chance.

      • T-Roach says:

        @QuestionMark trueeee, the Lakers have nothing on OKC, ok they have Kobe and Bynum but what they DONT have that OKC does have is an excellent PG, and this hasn’t been one of the Lakers better seasons, what makes you think that the offseason is gonna be any better when the competitions so much harder

  21. KIBS says:

    prior to that, it looks like perkins hit dirk with cheap shot when he trying to post him up..

    • shhh says:

      and prior to that Dirk shove Ibaka for unintentionally hitting his face on a jumper. it was a no call but should have been called.

  22. big props to marion for making it diffucult on durant and not making anything easy, dallas is playing with heart and not going out with out a fight, but right now okc is making the plays when it counts, but dallas is going to push them and not make it easy and if okc when the series, it will benefit them and make them more ready mental and tougher the deeper they go in the playoffs.

  23. sponger14 says:

    Just because Perkins has a scowl on his face everywhere he goes doesn’t make him a thug. He’s a physical player as he should be, but I’ve never seen him do anything to try and get someone injured. That’s just silly. And for last night’s game, Dirk threw his arm at Perkins’ face when going for the rebound. That’s why Perk got all riled up. Next thing you know Dirk is slamming his shoulder into Perkins’ chest. It goes both ways. Dirk is no more innocent than the rest, but he’s more subtle about it.

    • Belizeboy says:

      I agree. Perkins just has a menacing look and that’s where most his reputation comes from. At the same time, he is a physical player and does a lot of things to bother other guys, but at least he’s not throwing elbows and calling it a “celebration”.

      • batez says:

        Belizeboy shut up and go make me some curry chicken. What does this conversation have to do with that?

  24. sponger14 says:

    I don’t get all the Perkins bashing from last night’s game. Watch the replays. Dirk throws an arm at Perkin’s face when going for the rebound. That’s why Perkins got riled up, and then Dirk slams his shoulder into Perkins. It goes both ways. You can’t single one guy out and pretend the other is innocent. Dirk knows what he’s doing. He just more subtle and good at making it look like he is an innocent bystander.

  25. aidenpryde says:

    The stuff that went down with Perkins and Dirk happened because of the confrontation with Ibaka and Dirk. It s funny how much people complain about it when the Mavs pull the same BS. The foul on Dirk from Ibaka wasn’t intentional and yes it should have been called. Oh wait what about the elbow to the face of Westbrook? Ya i know the Mavs are sooooo clean.

    • Rich says:

      Westbrook stuck his face on that spot. It was a natural elbow move from Dirk making that turn. The height difference made the elbow connect to the face. But Westbrook killed tha Mavs last night, no question about it. He was finally making those shots that were not there last year – that’s the difference in this series.

    • shhh says:

      yup the confrontation started when Dirk shove Ibaka after a no call in his jump shot.

  26. Daddy W says:

    The Mavs are such cry babies on the court BUTPerkins is a beast! Thunder will take this series in 6 games!

    • batez says:

      Perkins?? A beast?? lol… Somebody didnt take their meds this morning! Marginal role player at best.

      • Daddy W says:

        Marginal role player? Get off Dirks jock and back on the short bus. He provides a mental toughness that the team needed. He also plays his role very well on the court. He worked hard to get in shape in the off season, the Thunder are a different team with him, PERIOD! Same role the mavs had with Chandler and w/o him another first round outing for cubans powder puffs.

  27. Adam says:

    People please. Durant hits 5 shots and scores in the 20′s? Dallas on wrong end of every call. Any team will win if they score 35% of points on free throws. Especially at end of game. Every time its down to the last minute, OKC manages to get free throws EVERY time. Get outta here. How about acually making some shots MVP? Dirk should be getting the calls Durant gets. He’s reigning Finals MVP. Let’s let them earn the right to go to the next round, not tell me they are grinding it out w/ physical play, thus every call.Harden hits the floor every time he drives. all his points were on Free throws too. These guys wont win later in the rounds. Not missing all those jump shots.

    • Tony says:

      Keep on crying ….too bad big daddy Joe Crawford is not there all the time to bail Dirk out like he did last year and game 1. Dallas is going fishing come Sunday.

    • Teresa says:

      You think Dirk isn’t getting calls? Good greif. You can’t hit him with a cotton ball and the refs are blowing their whistles and guiding him to the free throw line. Usually when the Thunder players get to the line it is from driving to the basket. Dirk just does his little fade away jumper and if someone looks at him cross-eyed they get a foul.

    • Tom says:

      i guess you missed the playoffs last year when dirk set the record for most freethrows made in a game. where if you were breathing on dirk they called a foul.

      • Jeff says:

        WOW. Am I the only ne who agrees with Adam? The rest of you are wrong:

        Tony: Joe Crawford has actually reffed both games, and he is probably more accused of going AGAINST Dirk than “bailing him out”.

        Teresa: Studies show 96.4% of professional basketball players do not bring cotton balls out to the court. And you obviously haven’t watched a Dallas possesion in this series. He has been hit numerous times in the head when driving to the basket, and never gotten the foul. Even the commentators were confused. Also, Serge Ibaka has more than once smacked him in the face during a shot, and was not once called for a foul.

        Tom: I don’t know why you would bring up breathing on players. That’s just disgusting.

    • Real Baller says:

      Adam: The MVP Kevin “the Closer” Durant did hit is Shot in the face and hands of Marion to WIN in game one and please stop crying about Dirk getting tapped lol, Dallas got their fair shar of free throw chances lets hope Dirk can actuall “Close” this one out because Terry surely FAILED LMAO!!

  28. japz says:

    Basketball is a sport.. Its a gentleman’s game. What kendrick perkins is doing is not an act of sportsmanship. He cant play a good basketball that’s why he’s trying to bring as many superstars down with him!!!!!!

    • Real Baller says:

      Gentlemans Sport? You Either Come Hard or Go Home…YOu cant be soft and play down Low, Its a CONTACT Sport, Dirk and Perk were just Playing PLAYOFF BBALL its physical and its a MENTAL GAME. THUNNDERRRR UP!!!!!!

    • Makaveli says:

      If you don’t like physical basketball then don’t watch the playoffs. Go watch european basketball or soccer or something.

    • DM8488 says:

      lmao @ Japz duh its the playoffs

  29. Dacre says:

    BEAUTIFUL. You go Dirk. “…we talked about some stuff and moved on.”… what you liked in the new Avengers film, good places to eat around town, what the new model Chevy is like on the corners…. hyuck hyuck.

  30. Kyhiem says:

    Due To The Fact That The Mavs Are The Previous Champions, They Wontt Lose Too Easily. But the Thunder Are My Favorite Team So Ihave Faith In My Team To Win all 7 games!

  31. Flying Raijin_41 says:

    kendrick perkins trying to get dirk nowitzki out of his game early…trying to bully his way, it’s up to dirk and the rest of the dallas mavericks to bounce back in their home court to win two straight….I think they can do it..

  32. Marco Polo says:

    I really hate Kendrick Perkins because he always fight with all players

    • QuestionMark says:

      Its not fighting, its called phyiscal basketball, obviously some players will get frustrated, its not Perkins who starts things, its the other player who gets frustrated because of Perkins. What Perkins does is called defense and intensity.

  33. jan_279 says:

    It’s becoming even more evident how badly the Mavs are missing Tyson Chandler. It’s so much easier for the Thunder to penetrate the paint because of insufficient defense down there.

  34. allaroundballer says:

    Mavs actually getting tougher in playoff but still they doesn’t have enough
    When they loose Chandler and Barea, I know they’ll going to rebuild

  35. Patrickmarc says:

    Perkins is a real big stupid, since a too long time now, and I think Referees shouldn’t let him do all this nasty things from the beginning.
    Everybody knows that Nowitzki don’t want to fight or intoxicate anyone, he doesn’t need. He has the talent and he concentrate on himself first.
    When I see the face of Perkins, it’s reminds me the special Artest, quite the same level.
    Infortunatly there is still a few players like this in NBA.

    Such a difference with those great gentlemen: Durant, Westbrook, Marion, Kid, Terry and I nearly could say all players of both team.

    • Ted says:

      Since a too long time now? Wow.. Nowitzki gets away with way more things then Perkins and that’s a fact. Dirk was frustrated and took it out on Ibaka and Perkins. Watch the video and you can see Nowitzki hit him in the face with his elbow. You throw bow’s you’re going to get them back.

      • IASA says:

        HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! That is very funny.

        Also, the mavs are not a physical team. They just play basketball right and just dont hapen to be as incredibly lucky as the Thunder.

    • DM8488 says:

      intoxicate anyone? are you drunk Pat? and did you not read this story? incidental smack on the face from Serge Ibaka from a previous possession, gave Perkins a shoulder to the chest after he and Perkins wrestled for position in the paint. Perkins retaliated by shoving him back and they were quickly separated by teammates and game officials. Dirk started it he lost his cool period wake up b4 making stupid comments!

    • JRob says:

      Pat, stop being butt hurt that your team is no longer as good as the thunder. I like both of these teams, and love Dirk, but this incident was totaly and completely his fault. oh and btw i think its hilarious how you said intoxicate, because if you watch, when PERK pushes DIRK back, Dirk backed off, he did NOT want any piece of KP. everybody knows dirk is talented, buyt he’s soft, he isnt a physical player. its simply the truth. he’s scared to play in the post and is THE worst offensive rebounder for his position in the history of the NBA.

  36. Jay says:

    Damn this series could be even better than the Bulls-Celtics series back in 2009. So fun to watch! GO OKC!!