DALLAS, Texas — The reigning NBA champion Dallas Mavericks were swept out of the first round of the playoffs as the Oklahoma City Thunder wrapped up their Western Conference series with a 103-97 victory.
James Harden on Saturday scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter as the Thunder made the Mavericks the first defending champions to be swept in the first round since the Miami Heat in 2007.
Kevin Durant added 24 points and 11 rebounds and Russell Westbrook finished with 12 points, six assists and five rebounds for the second-seeded Thunder.
They became the first team to reach the second round, where they will face either the Los Angeles Lakers or Denver Nuggets.
Dirk Nowitzki, the Most Valuable Player of last season’s NBA finals triumph over Miami, led the Mavericks with 34 points and Jason Kidd added 16 with eight assists and seven rebounds.
Elsewhere in the West, the Los Angeles Clippers rallied for a dramatic 87-86 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Top-seeded San Antonio were at Utah, seeking to take a 3-0 lead over the Jazz.
In Los Angeles, Chris Paul scored 24 points and handed out 11 assists for the Clippers, who took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, with game four on Monday in Los Angeles.
Blake Griffin added 17 points and Randy Foye’s 16 points included four three pointers, one of which knotted the score in the waning minutes.
Rudy Gay finished with 24 points for Memphis, but missed a potential game-winning jump shot at the buzzer.
Zach Randolph chipped in 17 and Marc Gasol had 11 points to go with 10 rebounds for the Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies led 71-64 going into the fourth quarter. The visitors were up 79-73 when the Clippers’ Eric Bledsoe made a layup to launch a 13-3 scoring run by Los Angeles.
Foye’s three-pointer tied the score at 80-80. Paul then made a jump shot, stole the ball from Gasol to feed Griffin for a dunk and made a pair of free-throws as the Clippers seized an 86-80 lead with 23 seconds to play.
The Grizzlies kept chipping away, and had a chance to pull out the win until the bitter end.
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