DALLAS, TX - MAY 03: Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder slam dunks the ball against Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks during Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinal at American Airlines Center on May 3, 2012 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

2012 NBA Playoffs, Mavericks Vs. Thunder Game 4: Oklahoma City Completes Sweep 103-97

Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder advance to the second round of the playoffs with a 103-97 win over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4.

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18 Total Updates since May 5, 2012
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Kendrick Perkins Injury Update: Thunder Center Remains Day-To-Day

The Oklahoma City Thunder should have had a more difficult time closing out the defending NBA champs in last night's game four against the Dallas Mavericks. After all, they were without their physical center for most of the game, the veteran presence who helps hold things down in the middle defensively. Yet even without Kendrick Perkins' intensity, the team still won on the road at Dallas to sweep the opening series of the 2012 NBA playoffs.

For Perkins, he remains day to day with a strained right hip. There's no official word yet from anyone on the team. Given the amount of time they have to wait until their next opponent is official, it's a welcome respite to allow such injuries to heal a bit more. Having Perkins healthy for the long haul is essential, so the rest is a nice luxury for OKC at this point.

"We'll evaluate it tomorrow and see how he feels," OKC coach Scott Brooks said.

Perkins played only 8 minutes of last night's game before leaving in the first quarter.

Read more about the Thunder at Welcome To Loud City. For more on the Mavericks, check out Mavs Moneyball.

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James Harden Takes Over For Thunder, Showcases Talent Against Mavericks

The Oklahoma City Thunder belong to Kevin Durant. Few NBA teams can attach themselves to a true superstar icon and the Thunder already have theirs. If room for two is allowed at times, then Russell Westbrook enters the picture. After all, the elite point guard is one of the game's best at the position. But the NBA playoffs are the perfect time for others to rise in the global spotlight available to them and James Harden is a secret no more, as he dominated the Mavericks in game four that completed the sweep against the defending NBA champions.

The Thunder won the fourth and final game of the opening series last night 103-97 on the strength of Harden's performance. He scored at will and took over in the fourth quarter. His final line? 29 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals.

After the game, Devin Kharpertian wrote, "With the Thunder down 13 in the fourth quarter, it wasn't Kevin Durant nor Russell Westbrook who pulled them back into this game. It was one 22-year-old sixth man named James Harden. Harden penetrated the lane, converted a ferocious dunk, hit tough layups in traffic, swung key assists to the superstars suddenly relegated to role duty and etched himself into playoff lore, leading a phenomenal comeback to confirm the sweep."

Harden is the best sixth man in the NBA at this point, no questions asked. However, superstardom could be his if he were able and willing to go to another team. Is it worth leaving? Would the team allow him? Those are questions to be asked and answered later. For now, the Thunder have a lot more ability than most people realized. The Mavericks just witnessed it firsthand.

Read more about the Thunder at Welcome To Loud City. For more on the Mavericks, check out Mavs Moneyball.

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