Thisclose. The Dallas Mavericks were thisclose to stealing one in Oklahoma City. A clip to the kneecaps, a bang to the funnybone, a chip in the confidence to the young and hungry Thunder.
Up one, with the seconds oozing away, and it's Kevin Durant with the basketball. Shawn Marion had him covered like a sweater, and yet. And yet. Pull-up jumpshot, 1.5 seconds left, and the Thunder win Game 1, 99-98.
Will the arbiters of sporting etiquette let us call this an official capital-R Rivalry yet?
Mavs Game 1 Quoteboard:
Was it the oysters, the loss or both? ...
“I think that’s the last of it.’’ Delonte West on Twitter
ARGH! and other comments -- on Durant's last shot ...
"Then at the end, we wanted Marion guarding him [Durant], but he made a great shot. The only other thing we could have done was double team him and get the ball out of his hands, and we should have done that, obviously. So that’s on me. I take responsibility for that." -Coach Rick Carlisle
"He made a tough shot, you’ve got to tip your hat. You’re talking about one of the best players in the world on the biggest stage, and he stepped up and made a shot. Shawn and the guys, I thought, played great defense. You just have to tip your hat." -Jason Kidd
"I like the fact the he drove to the basket and got to an area he can make that shot. It was a great shot. It was contested, but great players make tough shots. That's what he has to do. There's at times a tendency to take a 3 when it's not needed. But I like the fact he drove to the basket and got to a place where he can pull up above the defender. And if the shot wasn't going in, I thought Serge (Ibaka) had the perfect position for the tip. That's another growth with our team. Just knowing the little things. Sometimes it takes some time ... You've got to give them credit, Marion's a good defender." -Coach Scott Brooks
"It was great defense. I don’t even think he could see the rim. There was no way he could see the rim. He just threw that shit up and it rolled in. We should have never even been in that position, but you’ve got to give him credit because he hit a hell of a shot." -Shawn Marion
"Coach drew it up for me to come off the screen and get it close to the baseline. We knew they were going to switch it up ... I just didn't want to settle for a 3 so I just tried to take it closer and shoot a shot. I got enough arc on it and was able to get it to drop in ... It looked bad when it left my hands. I was struggling all night with my shot, missing open ones. Thank the Lord that one went in, man.'' -Kevin Durant
"It was a great shot. It saved the game for us. I don't think we played well … but he saved us at the end." -James Harden
"Good D, better O. It happens." -Jason Terry
Speaking of D, thoughts on the physicality of the OKC defense ...
“They’re going to do things to try to disrupt [Nowitzki's] rhythm. They’re going to grab and hold. To me, a typical example is the play before the first half ends. He’s getting grabbed and held, and they call a foul on Dirk because he’s just reacting to all the contact. You know, that turns into a possession for them and they hit a three. It’s a big momentum play. I’ve seen this for four years. Dirk Nowitzki’s the hardest guy in the league to guard because at 22 feet, if you back up and take your hands off him, he’s going to make the shot. So people grab and hold him all the time. I mean, all the time. He shows incredible restraint in those areas." -Coach Rick Carlisie
Refs allowing contact -- what say you, UberMan?
“I always talk during the game a lot. My style is never to complain after the game. I won’t do it now. It was a tough game, I thought we had our chances and we’ve got to create our breaks." -Dirk Nowitzki
Regarding Delonte's case of upset tummy (raw oysters? Seriously?) ...
"I just rested all day, got some fluids going. I've got a slight headache, but not anything that's going to keep me from playing ... I''m not missing a playoff game. You're going to have to drag me off the floor." - Delonte West
About playing in Chesapeake Energy, or 'bring ear protection' ...
"This is what you want. This is one of the best atmospheres in the league. It almost feels like a college game, really. They're into the game from the jump. This is a place where you want to play playoff basketball." -Dirk Nowitzki
"If you’re not into the competition and you don’t like a loud building, then you should get the f--- out of this." -Coach Rick Carlisle
What is it with all the Mav-killing hero-heaves?!?
"Last year we came up with those bounces and we were the ones on top. Too many times in close games, I think we have a losing record in those games. It's tough. It's definitely as tough a loss as you can get." -Dirk Nowitzki
Oh, Terry -- about Jason Terry's 20 points, none of which came in the fourth quarter ...
"They were playing him hard. That’s my job to get him more looks when he’s going good. I’ll take the responsibility for that." -Coach Rick Carlisle
"Not concerned. Again, I've been doing it all year in the fourth quarter. I'll get another opportunity. This is eight years of playoffs for me. If you're going to get too high or too low off any game, then you're in the wrong sport. This is a game of mistakes, of possessions, and we got to come out again on Monday and get one." -Jason Terry
"We’ve gotta find a way to get Jet the ball. I think he had the hot hand and we couldn’t even get him the ball in the fourth quarter. They denied him everywhere. We’ve got to counter that. Russell [Westbrook] met him all the way out to halfcourt -- we couldn’t hand him the ball the ball off, so you’ve really got to give them credit. I hate to waste a game by Jet like that. He was on fire." -Dirk Nowitzki
"He was feeling it. He came in and made his shot. We know going into the series, he's the wild card. He's the guy that can get 20 to 25 points quickly. Russell did a better job of denying. If you can take away six or seven of his touches, then you've done your job.'' -Coach Scott Brooks
"Hopefully he’s still hot…It was our fault that we couldn’t get him the ball in that fourth quarter." -- Jason Kidd
An opportunity missed is an opportunity lost ...
"It’s unfortunate for us that we played great basketball and gave ourselves a chance to win. We had a nice lead and we just have to close out games. When you’re playing on somebody else’s home court, holding a lead like that, we just have to close out games, plain and simple." -Vince Carter
"I thought we made a lot of great plays, played a good game all the way around, we outrebounded them, got to the free throw line and that’s usually a winning formula for us. We were right there, made some mistakes, I turned the ball over twice in the last three minutes when we were up by seven and little stuff like that puts them in transition. Just didn’t make enough plays down the stretch. Ibaka had an and-1 we can’t give up and Durant made a tough pull-up there. I think we played him as tough as you can." - Dirk Nowitzki
"You can look at that and nitpick and coulda, woulda, but that's over. I mean, what can you do? But next game, if you're in that same situation, then you can make your adjustments, try to do something different. As far as harping on it and worrying about what could have been, we'll let y'all do that." -Jason Terry
Bring your backpacks, Oklahoma City, this isn't over ...
“We’re going to keep coming at these guys. Trust me, we’re going to keep coming at them. We have a tough-minded team. We have a locker room full of champions and these guys have big heart. We put ourselves in a strong position tonight and we didn’t get it done. It’s on us. It’s on us. But we will not be deterred. We’re going to keep coming back at these guys. That’s what we have to do." -Coach Rick Carlisle
"It’s always been like this with these guys and it’s going to continue to be like that. I expect us to come out and put up a championship performance and come out and be the aggressor." -Jason Terry
"We’ll get another opportunity on Monday to really bounce back and tie this series up." -Vince Carter
"We know we can beat them. There's no doubt in our mind. It’s a one-possession game." -- Jason Terry.
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