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Bench a boost for Thunder

James Harden, who scores 23 for the Thunder, drives past the Mavs’ Ian Mahinmi. Harden leads a strong stretch run by the bench.

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James Harden, who scores 23 for the Thunder, drives past the Mavs’ Ian Mahinmi. Harden leads a strong stretch run by the bench.

DALLAS — Kevin Durant scored 24 and James Harden added 23, leading the Thunder to a 106-100 victory over the Mavericks on Thursday night, tying the Western Conference final at one game each.

Durant was as tough to guard as ever, but the real difference was Harden and the bench coming up big, especially down the stretch.

The guard had a four-point play in the final seconds of the third quarter that put Oklahoma City up by one. Then he and fellow reserves Eric Maynor, Nick Collison and Daequan Cook teamed with Durant in the fourth.

The Thunder's unusual set of finishers outscored the Mavs' by five. They broke the game open with a 14-5 stretch capped by a tough jumper by Harden near the free-throw line; it put Oklahoma City up by 10 with 3:15 left. Dallas got as close as four the rest of the way.

Oklahoma City continued its streak of avoiding consecutive losses this postseason. The series shifts to the Thunder's homecourt — about 200 miles up Interstate 35 — for Game 3 on Saturday night.

Dirk Nowitzki didn't dominate as he did in the opener, scoring 29. He had 16 in the fourth, but it wasn't enough as Dallas saw its seven-game winning streak end and dropped to 6-1 at home in the playoffs.

Nowitzki took only 10 free throws, down from 24 in the opener. He missed one, and it was a biggie — part of a series of three shots with 36.7 seconds left.

Tyson Chandler had 15 points and 13 rebounds, and Jason Kidd added 14 points and seven assists for Dallas. However, the Mavericks' bench wasn't up to its usual scoring punch.

Point guard Russell Westbrook bounced back from a tough opener to score 18, but he watched the fourth quarter from the Thunder bench.

Thunder 106, Mavericks 100

OKLAHOMA CITY (106): Durant 11-23 2-3 24, Ibaka 2-4 2-2 6, Perkins 2-2 0-0 4, Westbrook 7-15 3-4 18, Sefolosha 1-3 2-2 4, Harden 6-9 7-8 23, Collison 2-2 2-4 6, Maynor 5-9 3-3 13, Cook 3-3 0-0 8, Mohammed 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 39-70 21-26 106.

DALLAS (100): Marion 4-13 1-2 9, Nowitzki 10-17 9-10 29, Chandler 5-10 5-6 15, Kidd 4-10 2-2 13, Stevenson 1-6 2-2 5, Terry 3-9 2-2 8, Stojakovic 3-6 0-0 8, Barea 4-8 0-0 11, Haywood 1-1 0-0 2, Mahinmi 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 35-80 21-24 100.

Oklahoma City 26 33 18 29— 106

Dallas 31 26 19 24— 100

3-Point GoalsOklahoma City 7-18 (Harden 4-7, Cook 2-2, Westbrook 1-2, Maynor 0-1, Sefolosha 0-1, Durant 0-5), Dallas 9-27 (Barea 3-5, Kidd 3-8, Stojakovic 2-5, Stevenson 1-6, Marion 0-1, Terry 0-2). Fouled OutCollison. ReboundsOklahoma City 41 (Collison, Harden 7), Dallas 43 (Chandler 13). AssistsOklahoma City 17 (Harden, Durant, Westbrook 4), Dallas 18 (Kidd 7). Total FoulsOklahoma City 24, Dallas 22. TechnicalsDurant. A21,051 (19,200).

abdul-jabbar's anger grows: Former Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said his frustration over not having a statue of himself outside Staples Center symbolizes his "fractured" relationship with the franchise. "I don't expect my relationship with the team to continue," said Abdul-Jabbar, who has been a special assistant coach for the Lakers for six seasons. He complained about taking a pay cut in 2009, and added: "They don't really value my presence there like they value other people. … If you look at how they've dealt with Magic (Johnson) over the years and how they've dealt with me, there's a big disparity." Lakers spokesman John Black said in an e-mail that Abdul-Jabbar "has been made aware … for quite a while that … (his) would be the next statue erected."

rockets: Center Yao Ming said his surgically repaired left ankle is healing properly and he would like to remain with Houston. Yao, 30, said he will know during the summer if he can play next season. He becomes a restricted free agent July 1.

Bench a boost for Thunder 05/19/11 [Last modified: Friday, May 20, 2011 6:07pm]

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