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March 18, 2013

Thunder top Mavs

DALLAS — Kevin Durant felt like he was letting his team down through three quarters.

The three-time scoring champion then went on an offensive frenzy in the fourth before watching his supporting cast finish off the Dallas Mavericks.

Durant scored 19 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter, Russell Westbrook had 35 including the go-ahead jumper with 1 minute left, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Mavericks 107-101 on Sunday night.

Durant was 3 of 9 from the floor and hadn’t scored in the second half before hitting seven shots in a row during one stretch of the fourth.

“I was frustrated with myself early on and I wanted to stick with it,” Durant said. “My teammates kept coming to me. So I just wanted to come through for them.”

Even with Durant going on a scoring binge, the Mavericks managed to tie the game at 101 on Dirk Nowitzki’s two free throws with 1:20 left.

With Dallas taking the ball out of Durant’s hands, Westbrook connected on a 17-footer to give the Thunder a 103-101 lead. With a chance to tie on the next possession, Durant forced Dallas into a shot-clock violation when he blocked Mike James’ desperation jumper.

Thabo Sefolosha hit a turnaround jumper over O.J. Mayo to stretch Oklahoma City’s lead to 105-101.

Durant finished off his brilliant fourth by hitting two free throws with 2.2 seconds left.

“Shots weren’t falling for me and I turned the ball over,” Durant said. “I just had to stick with it and I think I did a good job of that. My first three quarters were below average.”

Nowitzki scored 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting, Vince Carter had 18 points and James added a season-high 14 points for Dallas.

The Mavericks, who have made the postseason 12 years in a row, are fighting to stay within reach of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference.

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