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Thunder try to turn out the lights in Dallas

8:36 AM, May 5, 2012   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - The Dallas Mavericks won the first NBA championship in franchise history last season.

To win another, they will have to accomplish another first. No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series and that's the hole that the Mavs find themselves in as they get ready to host the talented Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.

"The focus is very narrow, it's on one game," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "We're not tense or tight. We understand the nature of competition. ... We haven't lost any enthusiasm about our approach, and we will not."

The Thunder put Dallas on the brink of elimination Thursday when Kevin Durant scored 31 points as Oklahoma City dismantled the Mavericks, 95-79. Russell Westbrook added 20 points, James Harden scored 10 and Serge Ibaka finished with 10, 11 rebounds and four blocks in that one.

"This was a Game 7 for us. We needed it, it was a must-win for us, and we came out with that intensity," said Harden. "Same thing for next game as well."

The Thunder, who won the first two games of this series by a combined four points, never trailed in Game 3 and led by as many as 26.

"You don't ever anticipate being up by mid-20s against Dallas on their home floor," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "That's awful aggressive on your part if you're thinking that way. We have played good basketball."

Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 17 points while Jason Kidd added 12 and Jason Terry finished with 11. The reigning NBA champs shot just 34.2 percent from the field in the setback.

In Game 2, it was Durant who struggled to make shots. The regular season's leading scorer shot just 5-of-17 in the 102-99 win but was back to his efficient self on Thursday, which resulted in an early Thunder advantage.

Durant scored 15 points in the first quarter and made 3-of-4 three-pointers. His final trey of the frame had the Thunder up 28-13 and on their way to the rout. By the final buzzer, the reigning three-time NBA scoring champ finished 11-for-15 from the field, including 4-of-6 from three-point range..

"They came out firing," said veteran Mavs swingman Vince Carter. "They hit us first, at home, in a game that we needed. We have to hit first and you know the rest is history."

Oklahoma City also took three of four against the Mavs in the regular season. These two franchises have met three times in the postseason, last year's matchup in the West finals, which Dallas won in five games, as well as in 1984 and '87 when the Thunder were known as the Seattle SuperSonics. Dallas won in '84 while Seattle rebounded in '87.

Game 5 of this best-of-seven series, if necessary, will be Monday back in Oklahoma City.

The Sports Network

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