In game one of the Western Conference finals the Oklahoma City Thunder showed they wouldn't give up. In game two, they showed they wouldn't give up the lead.
Dirk Nowitzki led a furious comeback attempt by the Mavs with 16 fourth quarter points, but it wasn't enough as the bench-led Thunder evened the series at a game apiece.
“We can’t give a young team hope," said Mavericks center Tyson Chandler. "We did that. Now we got to get the next game and turn things around. But this is one game we didn’t have to lose. I know guys are going to look at this tape and be upset. Nothing against Oklahoma City. They played incredible. But you take care of business when you have the opportunity.”
The Mavs failed to take advantage of the opportunity, mostly because of the Thunder's bench, outscoring the Mavs reserves 50-29.
James Harden was the catalyst, scoring 23 points, including a 4-point play near the end of the third quarter, and dagger jumper in the fourth to put the Thunder up 10 points with just 3 minutes remaining.
The OKC bench played so well head coach Scott Brooks opted to leave his reserves in along with Kevin Durant down the stretch. That meant All-Star guard Russell Westbrook watched the most pivotal moments of the game from the bench.
“In the Lakers series, we played with an edge,” Chandler said. “When you are afraid of a team or you feel they can beat you, you play with an edge. I felt like we came out here and took these boys lightly. There is a reason why they are in the Western Conference finals and not a team to get taken lightly.”
That certainly won't happen again. We've got a series now; it's on. Game three is Saturday night in Oklahoma City, and won't that place be rockin'?