For anyone who ever tells you that nothing good can happen in five minutes, I present Monday nights Western Conference Finals game 4 between the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder as exhibit A that it can make or break a seasons worth a work.
With a little over five minutes to play, the Thunder was up 15 and looked like they would easily roll to a huge win that would have tied the series at 2 games apiece. What happened next will go down in Oklahoma City sports history as the worst moment ever as the Mavericks clawed their way back into the game, tying it in the closing seconds and eventually winning 112-105 in overtime.
"There's no doubt it was a tough loss," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "If this loss did not hurt, there's no such thing as a loss that can hurt you."
The Thunder collapse was one of the most epic seen in awhile as they used poor communication and poor judgment to finish off their game and more than likely their season. Turnovers, bad possessions, poor shot selection and defensive lapses; you name it, the Thunder did it in the final part of the game and in the end, it was enough to (more than likely since teams that go down 3-1 in a playoff series lose over 90% of the time) cost them their shot at the Finals.
"It goes without saying that it was a tough loss to accept, but it is a loss and we have to learn from it," Brooks said. "I thought our guys played as hard a basketball game as you can play. They were physical, we challenged shots, we struggled a little bit down the stretch with execution and throughout the game we struggled with turnovers."
The Thunder collapse may be the biggest story to come out of Mondays game but it shouldn't overshadow the rally by the Mavericks who were led by the cool leadership and clutch shooting of their vets Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd. They never got rattled, making shot after shot and when the game was their for the taking, they took it, no questions asked.
"We kept believing," Nowitzki said. "I think finally we got some rebounds. I think that was killing us all night long. We got second-chance points, tipouts. In the last couple minutes we got great stops, finally got some rebounds, and it really helped us (with) our flow. They couldn't really guard us off the transition and we needed to get some stops and that was big down the stretch."
With just one win needed before returning to the NBA Finals, things are clearly looking good for the Mavericks and their bid for a Championship but as the saying goes “pride goeth before the fall” so don't expect Dallas to come out anything but prepared for game 5.
"We worked really hard these two games to win, and none of that guarantees anything for Game 5. We know that," said coach Rick Carlisle "All of us involved with this team have been through a lot of these wars. We understand our position that we're in. We respect it. We're very humble about it. We've got to get ourselves revved up and ready for Wednesday, because that's an opportunity."
Photo Courtesy of: ASSOCIATED PRESS