Kevin Durant’s shot sinks Mavericks in final seconds

OKLAHOMA CITY — This must have seemed like a bad dream all over again for the Dallas Mavericks.

Kevin Durant made an 18-footer with 1.5 seconds remaining Saturday night as Oklahoma City nipped the Mavericks, 99-98, in Game 1 of a best-of-seven first-round playoff series at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Game 2 will be back here Monday night at 8:30 before the series shifts to Dallas for Games 3 and 4 on Thursday and May 5.

The Mavs had taken a 98-97 lead when Dirk Nowitzki connected on a pair of free throws with nine seconds remaining. the Thunder proceeded to call timeout, then worked the ball to Durant.

With Shawn Marion hanging all over him, Durant fired up a shot that hit the front of the rim, tapped off the backboard and fell through the nets.

Durant’s basket brought back bad memories for the Mavs. on Dec. 29 in this same building, Durant sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer as the Thunder edged the Mavs 104-102.

Saturday’s loss was a heartbreaker for the Mavs, who led for the majority of the game and appeared as though they were going to put the game on ice several times. but the Mavs could never get that one key basket that would bury the Thunder.

Dallas led 94-87 with 2:30 remaining after Nowitzki made a jumper. but the Thunder wasn’t done yet.

Durant, who finished with 25 points, hit a pair of free throws. then, after Nowitzki missed a long 3-pointer while being guarded by Kendrick Perkins [stats], Serge Ibaka completed a three-point play for Oklahoma City.

James Harden then stripped the ball from Nowitzki, and that led to a fastbreak dunk from Durant that tied the game at 94-all with 1:27 left

Ian Mahinmi hit two free throws to put the Mavs back up by two (96-94). however, Ibaka dunked, was fouled by Nowitzki, and hit the free throw as OKC inched ahead, 97-96, with 53.9 ticks left.

Nowitzki led the Mavs with 25 points, Jason Terry scored 20, Marion had 17 points and eight rebounds, and Vince Carter added 13 points and seven rebounds.

Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 28 points, Durant scored 25, Ibaka had 22 points and five blocks, and James Harden scored 19.

It was Ibaka’s three-point play that gave the Thunder a 97-96 lead with 53.9 seconds to go. He was the one player that Mavs could ill afford to have a solid night, especially if Westbrook, Durant and Harden were going to combine for 72 points.

“Ibaka is a major factor,” coach Rick Carlisle said before the game. “He blocked 16 shots the last two games we played them and that probably had a lot to do with our execution down the stretch of games, because if you drive in there 16 times and come up empty it’s going to affect the end of games.”

Kevin Durant’s shot sinks Mavericks in final seconds

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