NBA Playoffs 2016: The Dallas Mavericks and Toronto Raptors returned to winning ways Monday to tie their first round series against Oklahoma City Thunder and Indiana Pacers, respectively.
While the Mavericks beat OKC 85-84 in a low-scoring thriller, Jonas Valanciunas led the Raptors to 98-87 victory to bounce back from the Game 1 loss on Saturday. Raptors had to starve off another incredible performance from Pacers star Paul George, who finished with 28 points on 8-15 shooting.
The Raptors ran away with a 27-16 first quarter lead and maintained the momentum all through the game. Their backcourt of Kyle Lowry (18 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds, 4-13 FG) and DeMar DeRozan (10 points, 5-18 FG) had poor shooting nights but made up for it with lockdown defense and timely hustle. Lowry hit a perfect 10 of 10 from the free throw line to seal the deal for the Raptors.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks backcourt of Raymond Felton (21 points, 11 rebounds) and Deron Williams (13 points, 5 assists) did a fantastic job of curtailing MVP candidate Russell Westbrook (19 points, 8-22 FG) in a crucial away victory against Thunder. Dirk Nowitzki added another 17 points and Salah Mejri added 17 off the bench as Mavs unexpected tied the series before heading back to Dallas for Games 3 and 4.
NBA Playoffs Record: Durant ties MJ
In what was an uncharacteristic off shooting night, Thunder forward Kevin Durant tied Michael Jordan for the most misses in a postseason game since 1997 with 26. Durant finished with 21 points on 7-of-33 shooting besides going 2-of-11 from downtown.
“Just missed ’em. Just missed ’em,” Durant said after what was arguably his worst-ever playoff game. “Everything looked good for me. Coach drew up some good plays. Teammates set great screens. Russell delivered the ball perfect. It’s on me after that. I’ve just got to make ’em next game.”
Despite Durant’s forgettable night, the former MVP had an opportunity to win the game with a layup down the stretch. With 3 seconds left on the clock, Durant drove to the basket but had the game-winner blocked by Mavs rookie Justin Anderson. Steven Adams recovered the miss but couldn’t execute the put-back before the buzzer.
“Bad shooting night for me. It’s a part of it. I wish it didn’t happen tonight, but it’s a part of it. Got some great looks all night and just didn’t knock ’em down. Just stick with my routine, don’t do too much extra, and go out there tomorrow and get ready for practice,” added Durant, who expects to come back stronger for Game 3.
Stay tuned for the latest of the 2016 NBA Playoffs.