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Posted at 09:51 AM ET, 05/24/2011

Kevin Durant’s loss is Dirk Nowitzki’s gain in Thunder-Mavericks series

This was a tough, awful, painful way for a kid to lose — and a great way for a guy like Dirk Nowitzki to win. Kevin Durant managed just four field goals after the first quarter as Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks dropped a cinderblock of a 17-2 run on the Oklahoma City Thunder, taking a 3-1 lead with an overtime win in the teams’ Western Conference finals series.

Durant had nine turnovers — five in the third quarter. And, with the score tied in the final seconds of regulation, he tried a three-pointer that was blocked by Shawn Marion.

“I didn't have anything else to do,” Durant said. “I caught the ball almost at the halfcourt line, seen three Marvericks in front of me and had three seconds on the clock. I didn't know what else to do. I tried to get a shot up. I didn't want to run into their defense and get another turnover. I didn't know what else to do. He played good D.”

Nowitzki had 12 of those 17 points for the Mavs in a five-minute span.

“A lot of people compare him to Larry Bird,” Mavs center Brendan Haywood said. “This is why.”

The comparison with Bird ends with wins, though. The Mavs, who lost in the 2006 NBA Finals, were eliminated in the first round in three of the next four seasons.

“I’ve obviously had my fair share of leads and lost them,” Nowitzki said. “It’s all part of the game. You know, it happens. It happens to the best teams in the league.”

Durant wore a blank look as he flipped through text messages on his phone in the locker room.

“If this loss did not hurt,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said, “there’s no such thing as a loss that can hurt you.”

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