Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder tied up the series against the Dallas Mavericks, thanks to a great performance by Kevin Durant and James Harden.
The Thunder were able to defeat the Mavericks despite having Russell Westbrook benched for most of the second half. Westbrook wasn't playing terrible, scoring 18 points and having four assists in the first half. It was Westbrook's four turnovers that worried coach Scott Brooks.
In Game One, despite scoring 20 points, Westbrook had another bad game, a trend that has been reappearing in the playoffs this year for Westbrook. Westbrook was 3-15 from the field and didn't even try shooting from beyond the arc.
So who has stepped up for Westbrook, and have kept the Thunder in the playoffs?
Eric Maynor is the name. Maynor who played college ball at VCU, was drafted by the Thunder a few years ago. The first option to fill in for Westbrook would be Nate Robinson, but he is playing just as bad as Russell, so Maynor has been given the call to help the Thunder win.
After being outscored by Dallas' bench in Game One, the Thunder answered and outscored the Mavericks' bench 50-29.
Last night in 20 minutes of play, Maynor had no turnovers, shot 5-9 from the field, and had 13 points. When it was crunch time in the final minutes of the game, it was Maynor, with the ball in his hand rather then Westbrook. Maynor looked very calm with the rock in his hand, and had several key buckets down the stretch.
Going into the last quarter, the Thunder only had a one point lead. They ended up winning by six, thanks to help not only from Maynor, but from James Harden.
In the previous series vs the Grizzlies, it was Harden who made the Grizzlies endangered species. He was lethal from the three-point line, and would often put the game out of hands in the game's final minutes.
Last night, Harden had 23 huge points, and was the second leading scorer on the team. Harden also shot over 50% from behind the three-point line, and was 7-8 from the free-throw line. The Thunder fans were rocking the "fear the beard" chant, which is getting pretty popular, after San Fransisco Giants fans started chanting to fan favorite Brian Wilson.
And finally, it was the leader, Kevin Durant, who helped finish off this game vs the Mavericks. The turning point of the game without a doubt, was when the skinny Durant, dunked over the 7'0 263lbs Brandon Haywood. Here is the video by ESPN that shows Durant's dunk
Although it only came in the first quarter, The Thunder were down by nine at the time, and after the dunk never looked back. They would end the first quarter on a run, and continue it into the second quarter where they outscored Dallas by seven.
So the series is far from over, but the Thunder did their job holding off the Mavericks at home. The series now shifts up to Oklahoma City. Will we see Russell Westbrook get some redemption time, or will we see Maynor and the bench help fill in and give the Thunder some wins?