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Durant sinks Mavericks

Thunder win on his buzzer-beater

Nets point guard Deron Williams is fouled by the Magic’s Jameer Nelson. Nets point guard Deron Williams is fouled by the Magic’s Jameer Nelson. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)
Associated Press / December 30, 2011
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Kevin Durant thought he might have just given away a victory and let the Dallas Mavericks steal another one in heartbreaking fashion.

Then he found a way to take it right back.

Durant scored 30 points and hit a 3-pointer at the final buzzer to lift the Thunder to a 104-102 win against Dallas last night in Oklahoma City in a rematch of last season’s Western Conference finals.

“As a kid, of course you dream about hitting a game-winning shot in the NBA,’’ said Durant, who has hit two other winners at the buzzer in his five seasons.

“It’s a dream come true.’’

The Thunder let Dallas wipe away a 5-point deficit in the final 46 seconds to go ahead on Vince Carter’s 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds remaining. That was just enough time for Thabo Sefolosha to get the ball to Durant, who drilled a 3 from the right wing that improved his team to 4-0.

“It was crazy, a crazy course of events,’’ Durant said. “When two tough teams always go at it, it always comes down to the last play.’’

Dirk Nowitzki had 29 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Mavericks, whose title defense is off to a 0-3 start. Dallas had been blown out in its first two losses against Miami and Denver before letting a close one slip away.

Russell Westbrook had 16 points in his second straight subpar performance, but he made critical plays down the stretch.

He started the game 3 for 11 - with one of the makes coming when Jason Kidd blocked his shot and Brendan Haywood tipped it up and in - and had seven turnovers before getting a longer-than-usual benching in favor of Eric Maynor.

Westbrook returned when the game got close midway through the fourth quarter, providing a momentary lead with a two-handed breakaway dunk that turned into a 3-point play.

He followed that with a 17-footer from the right wing for a 96-93 lead, but the Mavericks - who made it a habit to stage late comebacks against Oklahoma City in last season’s West finals - had a few tricks left.

Nowitzki tied it at 96 with a 3-pointer but, after a Durant jumper, was called for a technical foul for arguing an offensive foul. Durant hit that foul shot and Westbrook added another jumper to put Oklahoma City up, 101-96, with 46 seconds left.

Jason Terry hit a 3-pointer to get Dallas within 2. Durant then missed a 3-pointer at the other end and Serge Ibaka missed both of his free throws after getting fouled on an offensive rebound.

Nowitzki pitched it back to Carter for the go-ahead 3.

Durant returned to the bench for a timeout, with rookie Reggie Jackson screaming encouragement that he was going to hit the winner.

“It’s special to hit a game-winner,’’ Durant said. “The season’s still young. To beat the champs in the early season is always pretty cool, but we’ve got to move on and get ready for the next game.’’

Rockets 105, Spurs 85 - Kevin Martin scored 25 points, Luis Scola added 18 and Kyle Lowry had 16 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists to lead host Houston.

The Rockets took advantage of the Spurs’ poor shooting at the start and built a big lead. First-year Houston coach Kevin McHale was able to rest his starters in the fourth quarter, with his team playing the first of three games on consecutive nights.

Bulls 108, Kings 98 - Derrick Rose had 19 points and eight assists in helping Chicago rout host Sacramento. The Bulls ran off 15 straight points early in the game and did not trail again.

Magic 94, Nets 78 - Ryan Anderson scored 22 points and Dwight Howard had 16 points and 24 rebounds for host Orlando. Jason Richardson added 16 points for the Magic - 15 in the first half.

Trail Blazers 111, Nuggets 102 - Wesley Matthews had 25 points, including five 3-pointers in the second half, as host Portland won its third straight.

Lakers 99, Knicks 82 - Kobe Bryant scored 28 points and host Los Angeles pulled away in the fourth quarter for its ninth straight victory over New York.

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