Why Dirk Nowitzki is the playoff X-factor for the Dallas Mavericks
0:37 | NBA
Why Dirk Nowitzki is the playoff X-factor for the Dallas Mavericks
Tuesday April 19th, 2016

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The Dallas Mavericks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 85–84 on Monday to tie their first-round series at one game apiece after the Mavericks held on for dear life in the game’s thrilling final seconds.

Embroiled in a back-and-forth battle, Dallas looked to be in prime position to win thanks to some clutch shooting from Raymond Felton and Wes Matthews down the stretch. The teams traded runs for much of the fourth quarter, setting up an epic final minute.

MORE NBA: Durant’s long night: Dissecting his rough shooting in Game 2

After two straight missed shots from Kevin Durant, Matthews scored a fast-break layup to give Dallas a 85–81 lead with less than 15 seconds to go. Durant, who missed a playoff career-high 26 field goals, answered Matthews’s layup on the next Thunder possession with a three to cut the lead to one.

When Dallas got the ball back, Felton was fouled and sent to the free-throw line, where he missed both shots, setting up a mad dash to the rim for the game’s finish. Durant corralled the rebound, and fired an outlet pass to Russell Westbrook, who raced the ball down the floor. Westbrook gave the ball back to Durant for a layup from the right block, which Durant missed. Westbrook followed Durant’s miss with a tip, which also didn’t go.

• MORE NBA: Notes on the opening weekend | Nowitzki enjoying the ride

Finally, Steven Adams rebounded Westbrook’s shot and banked in what looked to be the game-winner, only for the shot to be overturned on replay.

This entire game made no sense. Felton, before his free throws, was the Mavs’ hero. He recorded one of the most unexpected double doubles in NBA history with 21 points and 11 boards.

Meanwhile, Durant played one of the worst games of his career, making only seven of his 33 shots and missing two great looks to redeem himself near the end of the game. He finished with 21 points and also turned the ball over seven times. Westbrook put up 19 points and 14 rebounds, but also shot poorly from the field. He hit only 8 of his 22 attempts. 

Game 3 is in Dallas on Thursday.

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