NBA: Durant’s shot lifts Thunder over Mavs

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma – Kevin Durant rattled in the game-winner with 1.5 seconds to play on Saturday as Oklahoma City downed reigning NBA champions Dallas 99-98 in their Western Conference playoff opener.

Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder shoots the winning basket against the Dallas Mavericks in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on April 28, 2012 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Oklahoma City defeated Dallas 99-98. AFP

“Man, it looked bad when it left my hand,” Durant said of the shot that bounced high off the rim before dropping through the net.

“I’d been struggling all night with my shot, missing open ones. But thank the Lord that one went in,” he said.

With no timeouts left, the Mavericks were unable to get a shot off at the buzzer.

Dirk Nowitzki had put the Mavericks ahead 98-97 with two free throws with nine seconds remaining.

But on an inbounds play after an Oklahoma City timeout, Durant threw up a shot over two Dallas defenders to give the Thunder the narrow victory in a re-match of last season’s Western Conference finals.

Durant, the NBA scoring champion, finished the game with 25 points on 10-of-27 shooting. Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 28 points.

Nowitzki, Most Valuable Player of last season’s NBA finals triumph over Miami, led the Mavericks with 25 points.

The remaining three Western Conference series begin Sunday, with top-seeded San Antonio hosting Utah, the Los Angeles Lakers hosting Denver and the Memphis Grizzlies at home to the Los Angeles Clippers.

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