Durant lights up Mavs, scores career-high 52 in win

Art Garcia, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

DALLAS -- Kevin Durant scored a career-high 52 to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a hard-fought 117-114 overtime victory Friday night over the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center.
Oklahoma City (32-8) won its sixth game in row in its first return trip to Dallas since beating the Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs last season. Both meetings between these clubs separated by about three hours of highway have gone into OT this season, with the Thunder taking both.
"Obviously, Kevin had a phenomenal game, but I thought Serge's two offensive rebounds down the stretch were a big part of the win," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
"Defensively they've been playing much better, faster and now they have Dirk [Nowitzki] back in the fold. It was a good game, one of those games that nobody deserved to lose. I'm glad we came out with the victory because that's not an easy win."
The Mavericks trailed for most of the evening, but repeatedly fought back, usually behind reserve Vince Carter. They led by three points on two occasions in the fourth quarter, but needed a desperation 3-pointer from O.J. Mayo with 2.3 seconds left in regulation to force the extra session.
The Mavericks (17-24) also held a three-point edge in overtime but Durant drilled a 3-pointer with 2:05 left to put Oklahoma City back on top, 112-110. Durant scored nine points in overtime, including a floater for a 116-114 lead with 16.5 seconds left. His record performance came on a night he shot 13 of 31.
"I missed so many shots, and I wasn't taking it to the rim," Durant said. "I wasn't putting pressure on the defense, so I was just trying to make up for it in overtime. So, I just kept fighting and kept believing in myself.
"My teammates gave me confidence. It's more about the win for me. I was excited at the way we played."
The All-Star Game starter made all 21 of his free throws, and has hit the 40-point mark in three of his last five games. Durant's previous career best was 51 points against Denver last season.
"There are some things that we obviously could have done to limit him," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "He had a great game and he is the best shooter on the planet."
Durant didn't do it alone. Russell Westbrook added 31 points, six assists and five rebounds. Serge Ibaka grabbed 14 rebounds and picked up a double-double with 11 points.
The Thunder won despite shooting 41.1 percent.
Carter's 29 points paced the Mavs, who saw their season-high four-game winning streak snapped. Carter's output was his highest with Dallas, but he missed a running 3-pointer at the OT buzzer.
Nowitzki responded from a slow start to score 18. Mayo also had 18 and dished out seven assists. Backcourt mate Darren Collison scored 15. Elton Brand had his second consecutive double-double with 10 points and 13 boards.
The Mavericks are 1-8 in overtime this season. Mike James, just signed to a second 10-day contract, missed a questionable 3-pointer in the last 10 seconds of overtime.
"The play blew up and Mike ended up with it and it was unfair to him," Carlisle said. "It was a play that didn't work and it was my responsibility."
The Thunder had the game on the verge of a blowout in the first half, opening up as much as a 14-point lead in the second period. Westbrook and Durant combined for 31 points by halftime, but the pesky Mavs wouldn't go away.
Dallas finished the half with a push led by Carter, cutting the deficit to seven at 53-46. Carter had 12 off the bench, while Collison added 11. The Mavericks were in it despite Nowitzki shooting 1 of 9 in the first half.
Westbrook scored 10 in the first quarter, as the Thunder outscored Dallas, 30-22.
NOTES: Durant was named a starter on the 2013 Western Conference All-Star team. He received 1,504,047 votes, the second most in the West. It's Durant's third straight start and fourth appearance overall. Durant was last year's All-Star Game MVP. ... The Mavericks came into Friday having committed 13 or fewer turnovers in seven straight games. "We've got to continue to do that," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. ... Oklahoma City leads the league in free-throw shooting at 83.6 percent. Dallas allows the second-most free throws per game at 26.1.

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