Mavericks vs. Thunder score, highlights, takeaways: OKC surges late to even series in Game 4 win over Mavs

We have a series. Despite leading by as many as 14 and controlling most of the game, the Dallas Mavericks were unable to close out Game 4 as it was the Oklahoma City Thunder staging a fourth-quarter rally to pull out a 100-96 victory to even the series at two games apiece. 

OKC got a superstar performance from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who carded 34 points along with eight rebounds and five assists. Chet Holmgren added 18 of his own along with nine rebounds and four blocks. 

It was an inefficient night for Luka Doncic, who scored 18 points on 6-of-20 shooting, including 2-of-9 from 3 with seven turnovers. Kyrie Irving was again quiet with just nine points, though he did have nine assists. P.J. Washington was again terrific with 21 points and five 3-pointers. 

The series will now shift back to OKC for a pivotal Game 5 on Wednesday. Below are four takeaways from Game 4:

1. SGA plays superhero

Gilgeous-Alexander carried the Thunder to this win in every sense. He led the way with 34 points (his playoff career high), sinking methodical midrange jumper after methodical midrange jumper (including one from legitimately behind the backboard) down the stretch as OKC struggled for the majority of the game to find points from beyond the arc (26% as a team) or at the rim (35% as a team). In money time, SGA scored or assisted on 18 of OKC’s final 22 points over the game’s final six minutes. Just flat out superstar stuff. 

2. Luka Doncic was awful

I’m not being exaggerative. Luka, despite a triple-double box score of 18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, was truly awful in this game. The Thunder are clearly frustrating him with their physicality and multiple defenders tracking him everywhere. He’s looking to the refs for bailouts in his typical fashion, however, the calls aren’t coming and Doncic is not creating any kind of consistent downhill leverage. Ultimately, Doncic finished with more turnovers (7) than made shots (6) and missed a free throw with 10 seconds left that potentially could’ve sent the game to overtime. He might still be nursing an injury, but the Mavericks need every bit of their superstar. 

3. Mavs lost this game at the stripe

As mentioned, the Mavericks more or less shut off the Thunder at the rim (Daniel Gafford, Dereck Lively and Derrick Jones Jr. combined for 12 of Dallas’ 13 blocked shots). In addition, Dallas outscored OKC by 12 in the paint and 12 from beyond the arc. Dallas had more rebounds. More assists. 

So where, you ask, did the Thunder win this game? At the free-throw line, where they made 23-of-24 to Dallas’ 12-of-23. OKC did win the 3-point battle 12-3 in the fourth and, again, SGA owned crunch time. However, all of that notwithstanding, if Dallas just makes its free throws, it most likely wins this game. Doncic’s aforementioned miss with 10 seconds left was a microcosm of the whole night for Dallas. 

4. Turning point

With 6:36 remaining in the fourth quarter, with the Thunder trailing by seven, Lu Dort missed a 3-pointer and after Jaylin Williams came down with the offensive rebound, the ball was slapped out of his hands. The call on the court was Dallas ball, but Williams insisted the ball had actually deflected off Dallas’ Derrick Jones Jr. last. OKC coach Mark Daigneault trusted his guy, challenged the call, and won. That’s where the game swung. 

Again, at that point, the Thunder were down seven with the ball going back to Dallas. Instead, OKC retains possession and the other (Jalen) Williams immediately scored a 3-point play the old-fashioned way to cut the Dallas lead to four. OKC went on to make nine of its next 11 shots, turning a seven-point deficit into a five-point lead in just over five minutes. 

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