The Thunder Rallied To Steal Game 4 From The Mavericks In Dallas

Homecourt advantage has been restored in the Western Conference Semifinal between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks. Despite a sluggish first half for the Thunder offense, the team started to find its footing in the third and rode a monster fourth quarter to a thrilling, 100-96 win in Dallas to tie the series up at two wins each.

Dallas came out and was immediately firing all cylinders in the first quarter. While turnovers were a bit of an issue in the opening period, four separate players scored at least five points, they had eight assists on 11 made field goals, they shot 5-for-11 from behind the three-point line, and they had nearly as many offensive rebounds (four) as Oklahoma City had rebounds (five).

This was mixed with a stellar defensive effort, as well, as the Maverick defense was flying around and disrupting the usually crisp Oklahoma City offense. The Thunder were 8-for-22 from the field (36.4 percent) and missed all six of their attempts from three, and be the time the quarter ended, they found themselves trailing, 30-20.

The Oklahoma City offense continued to struggle against the Dallas defense in the second quarter, as the Mavs’ length, aggressiveness, and crisp rotations really seemed to throw off the young Thunder. While Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 12 points in the first half, no one else hit double-figures, and as a team, OKC only shot 34.9 percent from the field and hit one of their 11 attempts from three.

That effort on that end of the floor mixed with their dominance from deep (9-for-21 in the first half) meant that the Mavs were able to take a 54-43 lead into the locker room at halftime. Luka Doncic led the way with 12 points and eight rebounds, while P.J. Washington scored 11 and hit three triples. And while he only had four points, Kyrie Irving got involved in the offense with seven first half assists.

The third quarter saw Dallas’ offense start to fall apart. The team’s ability to hit threes basically evaporated, while they went multiple, three-plus minute stretches where they could not make anything from the field.

This opened the door just a bit for the Thunder, which weren’t much better in the third, but were good enough to meaningfully cut into the Mavs lead, thanks in large part to 12 points in the frame by Gilgeous-Alexander. Thanks to a 9-2 run at the end of the period, OKC found itself right back in the game entering the fourth quarter, as Dallas was clinging on to a 69-65 lead.

Dallas was able to start the fourth quarter getting its lead up to as many as eight points, and every time that Oklahoma City started to cut into it, the Mavs were able to find an answer somewhere. And then, midway through the period, Gilgeous-Alexander started to throw haymakers. The best midrange shooter in the NBA kept getting to his spots and knocking down those pull-ups that have become his signature, and a quick, 6-2 burst where he made every basket for his team got Oklahoma City within two points with 4:45 remaining.

And at the four minute mark after a stop, Gilgeous-Alexander got to his spot again, only this time, he had to get the ball up and over the corner of the backboard. He did, the ball didn’t touch the rim, and suddenly, the game was tied. And after yet another stop, Chet Holmgren got a wide open look from the corner to give the Thunder the lead.

The shoe was suddenly on the other foot, with the Mavs trying to chase the Thunder down after they went on a 9-0 run to take the lead and Oklahoma City always finding an answer.

But Dallas was able to crack the door open with 33 seconds left after forcing a miss and getting the ball into Doncic’s hands, which led to a lob for Derrick Jones Jr to cut the lead to two. And after a Gilgeous-Alexander middy went halfway down before popping out, the Mavs had the ball with 12 seconds left and a chance to tie or win the game.

Doncic got fouled, but missed his first attempt. He made the second, but Dallas found itself down one and needing to play the free throw game with 10 seconds remaining. That ended up not going their way, and as a result, the Thunder were able to walk out of Dallas with a win.

Gilgeous-Alexander was the star on the night for Oklahoma City, as he scored 34 points with eight rebounds, five assists, two steals, and two blocks. Holmgren had 18 points with nine boards and four blocks, while Lu Dort had 17 and eight rebounds along with his usually pesky defense. Dallas was led by Washington’s 21 points and 12 rebounds, while Doncic had a triple-double with 18 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists.

The series will now return to Oklahoma with both teams knowing they’re two wins away from a berth in the Western Conference Finals. Game 5 between the Thunder and the Mavs will take place on Wednesday night at 9:30 p.m. EST on TNT.