OKLAHOMA CITY -- It's a good thing the Dallas Mavericks got those Oklahoma City kids when they did.
The northern neighbors have dominated the Red River rivalry since those savvy veteran Mavs made quick work of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2011 Western Conference finals. Bricktown was just a speed bump on the route to a championship parade in downtown Dallas at the time.
Those talented kids, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, have grown up a lot in the past couple of years. They're no longer blossoming superstars; they're simply among the league's best players. The Mavs grew old and broke up the gang.
Many of the faces have changed over the past couple of seasons for the Mavs, but their results against the Thunder have been frustratingly consistent. Dallas' 107-93 loss Wednesday night marked the 13th Oklahoma City victory in the past 14 meetings between the teams, including a sweep in the first round of the 2012 playoffs.
"It's basically a new team here, so I don't know if they're in anybody's heads but me and Matrix's," Dirk Nowitzki said, referring to Shawn Marion, the only other member of the 2011 title team who remains on the Mavs' roster. "They're good. They got better. We beat them in 2011. They took the next step from there.
"They got better and better, and we didn't."
The Thunder are more talented than the Mavs and the vast majority of other NBA teams. That doesn't make Dallas' losses to Oklahoma City any less frustrating.
The Mavs have an 11-game losing streak to the Thunder. This was one of the more lopsided losses of the bunch. Nine of those losses were decided by six points or fewer, adding to the Mavs' frustration.
"It is frustrating and we're aware of it, of course," said second-year forward Jae Crowder, whose 17 points off the bench were one of the bright spots of the loss. "It'll come. It'll happen."
Maybe the Mavs' inability to beat the Thunder has something to do with Dallas' irritability against this particular foe.
There have been many heated moments in the rivalry over the past few years, and that list got longer Wednesday night. The surprise was that none of the incidents involved Kendrick Perkins, an Oklahoma City enforcer whose basketball skills eroded long ago.
"They've got the white Kendrick Perkins now," Nowitzki cracked.
Nowitzki was referring to rookie center Steven Adams, who was in the middle of the most notable dust-up during this visit from Dallas. Mavs sixth man Vince Carter was ejected and subjected himself to a suspension with a retaliatory whack across Adams' forehead with his forearm in the third quarter.
Crowder got whistled for a double technical along with Westbrook with 1:32 remaining. According to Crowder, Westbrook hit him with a ball during a timeout. Crowder made sure Westbrook knew it wasn't appreciated.
"I'm not surprised it went that route because those guys talk a lot of smack and they can get under your skin a little bit," Crowder said.
As he was leaving the locker room, Crowder muttered, "We'll see those guys again."
But it's hard to see the balance of power in this series shifting again any time soon.