Harden rallies Thunder; Mavs swept away

James Harden scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter as the Oklahoma City Thunder completed the series sweep of the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks with a 103-97 victory in Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.

The Mavericks became the first defending champions to be swept out of the first round of the playoffs since the Miami Heat in 2007.

Kevin Durant added 24 points and 11 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook finished with 12 points, six assists and five rebounds for second-seeded Oklahoma City, which will face the winner of the series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets.

"He was phenomenal in the fourth," Durant said of Harden. "His pick and roll game is unreal. It's fun to watch, fun to be a part of. The best part about our team is that we have a lot of guys who can play off each other, and we complement each other well."

Dirk Nowitzki paced the Mavericks with 34 points and Jason Kidd added 16 with eight assists and seven boards.

"They just outplayed us tonight," Mavericks guard Delonte West said. "I'm proud of the way this team fought tonight, and like I said, they got three really good players in Durant, Westbrook, and Harden. They attacked us tremendously and that was our downfall this series."

The game entered the third quarter tied at 47 after a back-and-forth first half, but Dallas dominated the third quarter to seemingly take control of the game.

Nowitzki netted 10 points in a 17-7 run to open the frame as the Mavericks jumped out to a double-digit lead, 64-54.

The Thunder battled back to close the gap to 67-61 on a Derek Fisher three- pointer with a little more than four minutes left in the third, but Dallas closed out the third quarter with a 14-7 swing that included a pair of three- pointers by Kidd and another by West to give the Mavs an 81-68 cushion entering the fourth.

"We had a bad third quarter; going down 13, especially late in that third quarter," Harden said. "And usually we crumble, but we didn't crumble at all. In the fourth quarter we picked it up, and just everybody made plays."

Oklahoma City, though, took over in the fourth quarter.

"They're winners over there. You can't keep giving them opportunities to win games," Harden said. "So, we had to close it out. Now guys get to rest."

After a Jason Terry three-pointer put Dallas on top by a score of 86-73 just past the two-minute mark of the fourth, Harden scored seven straight points to kick off a 25-7 run that gave the Thunder a 98-93 lead with 2:30 left in the game.

A pair of free throws by Nowitzki was then followed by two from the foul line by Nick Collison to make the score 100-95 with 2:02 remaining, and neither team would score again until Nowitzki was fouled and sank both free throws to bring the Mavericks within three with 33.0 ticks showing on the clock.

But Harden grabbed the inbounds pass coming out of a timeout and set up his dribble at the top of the key before driving hard to the net and finishing with a finger roll at the rim to put Oklahoma City ahead, 102-97, with 10.2 seconds left.

Terry's three-pointer rimmed out at the other end and Durant made the front end of two free throws to cap the scoring and push the Thunder into the next round.

The Thunder scored 12 of the first 18 points of the game to take the early lead, but Dallas answered with an 11-3 run to go ahead, 17-15, on Ian Mahinmi's layup.

Harden put an end to the spurt with a deep three-pointer to spark an 11-4 spurt by Oklahoma City before Vince Carter's trey in the closing seconds brought Dallas within 26-24 at the end of the first quarter.

The teams traded baskets over the opening four-plus minutes of the second until the Mavericks reeled off eight straight points to take a 38-37 edge with less than five minutes left in the half.

It remained a one-possession game for the rest of the second quarter with Oklahoma City holding a pair of three-point leads and Dallas going on top by two before Durant's late jumper made it a 47-47 game at the break.

Game Notes

Oklahoma City's starting center Kendrick Perkins left the game late in the first quarter with a right hip strain and did not return...Thunder starting center Kendrick Perkins left the game with a strained right hip in the first quarter and did not return...Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka scored 10 points, pulled down six rebounds and blocked three shots before fouling out late in fourth quarter...Terry finished with 11 points for Dallas.