(The Sports Xchange) - Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder responded from an uncharacteristic showing in impressive fashion.
Durant scored a game-high 34 points, Russell Westbrook added 26 and the Thunder rolled to a 131-102 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 3 of a Western Conference quarterfinal playoff series Thursday night at the American Airlines Center.
With the victory, the Thunder grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is scheduled for Saturday in Dallas -- where the Thunder are now 3-0 this season.
Wesley Matthews led the Mavs with 22 points, Raymond Felton had 18 and Dirk Nowitzki finished with 16.
Even with the lopsided score, things got heated between the teams. Midway through the third quarter, Felton, who is 6-foot-1, and Thunder center Steven Adams, who is 7 feet, went at it briefly.
Upon review, each was charged with a technical foul, and the game stayed chippy for a while after that.
That scuffle also briefly sparked the Mavs. Dallas went on a 10-3 run to pull to within 77-67 with 5:11 left, but never truly threatened.
The Thunder had at least a double-digit lead the final 23:14 of the game, and Durant is a big reason why.
After a dismal shooting night in Game 2, when he finished 7-for-33 from the field, the star forward returned to his usual self early in Game 3. Durant knocked down his seventh bucket midway through the second quarter, taking 24 fewer shots than he needed to match his Game 2 total.
Durant finished his night 11-for-25 from the field with seven rebounds and three assists.
Thunder guard Andre Roberson opened the game by draining a 3-pointer, and Oklahoma City never trailed.
The Thunder led by as many as 11 in the first quarter, and they built a 55-36 lead at one point in the second quarter.
The Mavs managed to stay somewhat within striking distance, closing the first half on a 12-3 run. Matthews started that run by knocking down a 3-pointer with 3:46 left, then made another with 1:04 left.
Still, the numbers overwhelmingly showed the Thunder were the better team. They shot 50 percent from the field and 3-point range in the first half, while the Mavs shot 41.5 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from 3-point range.
On the night, Oklahoma City shot 57.7 percent from field to 47.7 percent for Dallas. The Thunder were 15-for-27 (55.6 percent) from long range to the Mavericks’ 6-for-23 (26.1 percent).