Kevin Durant silenced any rumours of a spat between he and teammate Russell Westbrook last night, sinking a buzzer-beating three pointer to extend Oklahoma City's record to 4-0.
The Thunder edged out the Dallas Mavericks 104-102 to remain perfect, while handing the Dallas Mavericks their third straight loss to start the season.
Durant's clutch possession with 1.4 seconds remaining capped off eight minutes of entertaining, high octane basketball from the Thunder and the visitng Mavericks. Durant finished with 30 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and two blocks, while Dirk Nowitzki had 29 points, ten rebounds and four assists.
"It was crazy, a crazy course of events," Durant said following the game. "When two tough teams always go at it, it always comes down to the last play."
The dramatic finish followed a near-fight between Serge Ibaka and Vince Carter with under eight minutes left, a go-ahead dunk by Westbrook after Kendrick Perkins poked the ball away from Nowitzki, and multiple big shots from both teams.
Follwing a technical foul on Nowitzki, Durant's free throw put OKC's lead to 99-96. With 40 seconds left, Westbrook hit a mid-range jumper, but Jason Terry responded with a three pointer to cut the Thunder's lead back to two points (101-99).
With a chance to put the game away, Ibaka was fouled and missed both free throw attempts, leaving the Mavs with one shot to tie or win the game. What happened next should have been no surprise, as Nowitzki drew the double team, leaving Carter open for the three to take the lead 102-101.
As ESPN reports, Durant blamed himself for leaving Carter open, and thought he had lost the game for his team.
Not only was OKC's win secured in dramatic fashion, but it couldn't have come at a better time. Following a reported altercation between Durant and Westbrook in Wednesday night's victory in Memphis and the ensuing media scrutiny complete with trade scenarios for Westbrook, Durant's shot provided a vindicating "swoosh" heard around the league.
Now, despite the gaps in these teams' records as well as the notable difference in age, this is one of the best rivalries in the league. It has been brewing since the Western Conference Finals last year, when the Mavs overcame an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter of Game 5 to clinch the series.
However, it's been all OKC since then. This year, the Thunder easily beat the Mavs in both preseason games, but if last night's showdown proved anything, it's that Monday night's rematch in Dallas will be one worth watching.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com