Rapid Reaction: Mavs 100, Thunder 87
The Thunder (5-1) were the last unbeaten team in the Western Conference.
Give the Dallas defense, which entered the game last in the NBA in defensive field-goal percentage, credit for limiting the dangerous OKC offense to 20 points in the first quarter -- allowing the cold-shooting Mavs to end the quarter tied -- and 18 in the third when the Mavs used a 12-2 spurt to take a 68-53 lead. Dallas has held two of its last three opponents in the 80s.
After the first quarter, Dallas heated up and finished shooting 48.8 percent. Dirk Nowitzki had a team-high 26 points, including 10 in the third quarter, six rebounds and three assists. He hit a clutch jumper to put the Mavs up 91-81 with about three minutes to go and OKC trying to make a late run.
The victory came with contributions from up and down the roster. Vince Carter had a strong first half, playing as aggressively as he has in a Mavs uniform and forcing his way to the free throw line. He scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half and got six of them from the charity stripe.
Dallas' centers continue to be something of a sudden surprise after being relative no-shows the first two games. Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi were both active throughout. Haywood finished with six points and eight boards, while Mahinmi posted 10 points, the second time in three games he hit double-digits, and a season-high nine rebounds.
Jason Terry finished with 15 points, and Shawn Marion had 17 on 8-of-17 shooting after a 1-of-6 start. He hit consecutive buckets with 2:35 to go, first a hook and then his first 3-pointer of the season for a 96-82 lead. Lamar Odom had a season-best eight points on 2-of-4 shooting with five rebounds and a couple assists, so that has to be somewhat encouraging, as well.
Kevin Durant still finished with 27 points on 10-of-21 shooting -- and just two rebounds -- but Dallas was able to maintain a big enough lead that prevented him from taking over. Durant and Russell Westbrook (18 points, eight rebounds) both left the game with 1:17 to play.
What it means: Dallas improves to 2-4 overall but seems to have a little psychological equity built up against the Thunder. The Mavs lost five nights ago in OKC, 104-102, but it took a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Kevin Durant to get it done. This matchup certainly would have seemed to favor the rested Thunder against a Mavs team on the back end of a back-to-back and playing its fourth game in five nights.
Play of the game: With less than six minutes to go in the third quarter and Dallas seizing the momentum, Delonte West dribbled out by the arc with James Harden on him. West gave a fake that buckled Harden and dropped him to the floor. He got the ball to Jason Kidd, who fed Nowitzki for a pretty running hook that put the Mavs up by their largest lead, 68-53.
Stat of the day: Kidd finished with a season-high nine assists. The entire Oklahoma City team totaled seven assists after three quarters and finished with 12. Dallas had 21.
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