James Harden scored 29 points to help the Oklahoma City Thunder win 103-97, sweeping the defending National Basketball Association champion Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs.
The Miami Heat were the last defending champion to lose 4-0 in the first round, to the Chicago Bulls in 2007.
“They just had more weapons than us,” Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki told reporters. “They looked really good all the way around.”
In other games last night, the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Utah Jazz 102-90 to move within one victory of a sweep, the Indiana Pacers topped the Orlando Magic 101-99 in overtime to take a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven series and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Memphis Grizzlies 87-86 to hold a 2-1 advantage.
At EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Tony Parker scored 27 points and Tim Duncan added 17 as the Spurs took a 3-0 lead over the Jazz. Al Jefferson had 21 points and 11 rebounds and Devin Harris added 21 points for the Jazz, who host Game 4 tomorrow. No NBA has ever come back from down 3-0 to win a best- of-seven series.
At American Airlines Center in Dallas, Harden came off the bench in the fourth quarter to score seven consecutive baskets and nine points in a 12-0 run for the Thunder, who were down 13 points with just under 10 minutes left.
Serge Ibaka tallied two points on Russell Westbrook’s steal and the Thunder took the lead 92-91 with five minutes, 17 seconds remaining.
Kevin Durant added 24 points for the Thunder, who were tied with the Mavericks 47-47 at halftime.
“They just outplayed us tonight,” Dallas guard Delonte West said. “They got three really good players in Durant, Westbrook and Harden. They attacked us tremendously and that was our downfall this series.”
Nowitzki had 34 points for the Mavericks and Jason Kidd added 16 points.
The Thunder advance to the second round to play the winner of the series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Colorado Nuggets. The Lakers, who visit the Nuggets tonight, have a 2-1 lead in their series.
At Staples Center in Los Angeles, Eric Bledsoe gave the Clippers an 87-83 lead on a free throw with 12 seconds left to play. Rudy Gay narrowed the gap to 87-86 with a 26-foot 3- pointer with eight seconds remaining and then missed a 25-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have given the Grizzlies the win.
Chris Paul had 24 points and 11 assists and Blake Griffin scored 17 points for the Clippers. Gay scored 24 and Zach Randolph contributed 17 for the Grizzlies.
At Amway Center in Orlando, David West had 26 points and 12 rebounds and Danny Granger added 21 points for the Pacers, who host the Magic in Game 5 on May 8.
Jason Richardson had 25 points and Glen Davis tallied 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Magic.
In games tonight, the Chicago Bulls try to even their series against the Philadelphia 76ers at two games each, the New York Knicks look for a victory to avoid elimination by the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics take a 2-1 series lead into a home game against the Atlanta Hawks.
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