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NBA playoffs: Thunder snatch defeat from jaws of victory in loss to Mavericks

NBA playoffs: The Oklahoma City Thunder blew a big lead late in the game to lose to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference finals. Dallas now looks to close out OKC in the NBA playoffs, back in Texas Wednesday.

Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki of Germany celebrates near Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook during Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference Final basketball playoff in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma May 23.

Bill Waugh/Reuters

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With just under five minutes left in regulation, the ocean of royal blue-clad Oklahoma City Thunder fans could feel victory in their grasp. After a Kevin Durant 3-pointer that hit nothing but nylon, the crowd exploded and the Thunder went up by fifteen points.

Dallas’s first 44 minutes of Game 4 were as mediocre as any they've endured during the playoffs. But as they’ve repeatedly shown this season, this is a different Mavericks team from years past, and they once again countered with a steely veteran steadiness that produced one of the most jaw-dropping comebacks in NBA history, resulting in a 112-105 overtime victory over the Thunder.

Dallas now returns home with a 3-1 series lead after winning five consecutive games on the road, as well as nine of their last ten playoff appearances, and can close out Oklahoma City with a win on Wednesday night.

In those last few minutes, there was one key factor that no Thunder player or fan could anticipate: the otherworldly inspired play of Dallas’s Dirk Nowitzki. Hitting for 40 points, Nowitzki entered rarified air in NBA lore with a shooting performance that television commentator Magic Johnson said reminded him of Michael Jordan in his prime; high praise, and by no means an exaggeration.


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