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Mavs avoid another collapse to gain edge

The Mavericks’ Shawn Marion slams one through in the first quarter for two of his 18 points, which tied for the team lead.

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The Mavericks’ Shawn Marion slams one through in the first quarter for two of his 18 points, which tied for the team lead.

OKLAHOMA CITY — Dirk Nowitzki had 18 points during an off night for both of the game's superstars, and the Mavericks built a huge lead early before hanging on for a 93-87 victory over the Thunder on Saturday night to take a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference final.

Dallas, which tied with the Heat for the league's best road record during the regular season, won its fourth straight playoff road game and reclaimed homecourt advantage two nights after letting it get away in Game 2.

Nowitzki shot 7-of-21 from the field, but the Mavs still called on him in the clutch to hold off Oklahoma City's late charge.

"He's the best; even if he's not making shots early, he wants the ball to make a play," Dallas guard Jason Kidd said.

NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant also struggled from the field, hitting 7 of 22 shots to finish with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Russell Westbrook responded to a fourth-quarter benching with 30 points, helping the Thunder rally from 23 points down to make it interesting in the final minutes.

Dallas blew a 23-point lead in the final 13 minutes in the first round at Portland and led by 22 with 17 minutes to go this time.

Even with Nowitzki struggling, the Mavs leaned on the big German with the Thunder closing the gap. Nowitzki got the ball on 10 of 11 possessions and scored just three times, but it was enough to keep Oklahoma City at bay.

Westbrook and Daequan Cook missed 3-pointers that could've gotten the Thunder within three, and Westbrook then lost the ball out of bounds before Jason Terry's jumper stretched the lead to 86-78 with 1:42 left.

Nowitzki added a jumper from the left elbow to put the lead back at eight after Durant hit two free throws, and Dallas held on from there.

Mavericks 93, Thunder 87

DALLAS (93): Marion 9-13 0-0 18, Nowitzki 7-21 3-3 18, Chandler 3-3 2-4 8, Kidd 4-10 3-4 13, Stevenson 3-6 0-0 8, Stojakovic 3-7 0-0 7, Terry 3-12 6-6 13, Barea 2-5 0-0 4, Haywood 2-5 0-1 4. Totals 36-82 14-18 93.

OKLAHOMA CITY (87): Durant 7-22 10-11 24, Ibaka 4-11 1-2 9, Perkins 0-2 4-4 4, Westbrook 8-20 13-14 30, Sefolosha 2-3 0-0 4, Harden 2-9 3-4 7, Collison 4-4 1-1 9, Maynor 0-1 0-0 0, Cook 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 27-74 32-36 87.

Dallas 27 25 18 23— 93

Oklahoma City 12 24 20 31— 87

3-Point GoalsDallas 7-21 (Stevenson 2-3, Kidd 2-5, Stojakovic 1-3, Terry 1-4, Nowitzki 1-6), Oklahoma City 1-17 (Westbrook 1-2, Sefolosha 0-1, Cook 0-2, Harden 0-4, Durant 0-8). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsDallas 45 (Chandler 15), Oklahoma City 56 (Durant 12). AssistsDallas 21 (Kidd 8), Oklahoma City 11 (Durant 5). Total FoulsDallas 24, Oklahoma City 17. TechnicalsChandler, Stevenson, Westbrook, Oklahoma City defensive three second. A18,203 (18,203).

Gator keeps focus

MIAMI — Heat forward Udonis Haslem admits he has thought about the significance of tonight's game.

He is likely to receive a big ovation from the AmericanAirlines crowd when he enters Game 3 against the Bulls. But enjoying it can wait. There are more important things to worry about.

"I'll enjoy it after the game," the former Florida Gator said.

He will play at home for the first time since returning from foot surgery. When he is called to the scorer's table, it could draw a similar reaction to when Alonzo Mourning returned in 2005.

"He will earn whatever reception he gets," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We're all pleased that he's able to contribute."

Mavs avoid another collapse to gain edge 05/21/11 [Last modified: Sunday, May 22, 2011 1:29am]

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