Wednesday, February 17, 2010
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Thunder top new-look Mavs for 7th straight win

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[February 17, 2010]  OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Kevin Durant had 25 points and 14 rebounds, rookie reserve James Harden added 17 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the new-look Dallas Mavericks 99-86 Tuesday night to stretch their winning streak to seven games.

HardwareCaron Butler scored 13 points and helped Dallas build an early 12-point lead after coming over in a weekend trade from Washington, but he finished 4 for 16 from the field and Oklahoma City charged ahead in the second half.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 points, Jason Terry had 14 points and Jason Kidd finished with 12 for the Mavericks.

Starting center Erick Dampier had 13 rebounds but headed to the locker room with 2:54 remaining with an open dislocation of right middle finger. He was expected to remain in Oklahoma City and have it surgically repaired before rejoining the Mavericks. The team gave no immediate timetable for his return.


Durant extended his streak of games with at least 25 points to 26, but he needed a driving layup with 26.6 seconds left to get there -- after coach Scott Brooks had taken three of Oklahoma City's five starters out of the game.

After a sizzling second quarter, neither team could find the mark early in the second half. The teams combined for only 10 points over the first 6 1/2 minutes of the third quarter, with Russell Westbrook's jumper from the left wing giving Oklahoma City a 61-59 lead with 7:34 left.

The Thunder eventually got going, reeling off 14 straight points as the Mavericks went more than 6 minutes without scoring. Harden hit four straight free throws to make it 73-59 with 1:41 remaining. Oklahoma City outscored Dallas 22-11 in the third quarter, the lowest scoring period of the season for the Mavs.

Serge Ibaka's layup pushed the Thunder lead to 17 in the first 2 minutes of the fourth before the Mavericks finally mounted a comeback.

Terry started a string of three straight baskets for Dallas, and he added a 3-pointer before Kidd's free throw cut it to 92-84 with 3:37 remaining. Dallas didn't score again until J.J. Barea's meaningless layup with 16.3 seconds left.

Jeff Green and Westbrook also scored 17 points for Oklahoma City, which held Dallas to 32 percent shooting and committed only nine turnovers.

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Playing their first games with the Mavericks, Brendan Haywood scored all seven of his points in the first half and DeShawn Stevenson played five scoreless minutes.

Inserted into the starting lineup, Butler seemed out of sync with the other Mavericks early on, with Kidd noticeably directing him around on one play before he missed his first shot from the right elbow. A handful of possessions later, Butler was responsible for Nowitzki getting a second early foul as he telegraphed a pass that Thabo Sefolosha picked off and Nowitzki fouled him to prevent a fast break.

Butler made up for it with a 19-foot jumper to put Dallas back on top and start a 14-2 run that Haywood finished with his first basket, an out-of-control bucket inside that made it 23-12. Butler and Haywood had 13 of the Mavericks' 19 points while Nowitzki was out.


Nowitzki returned and converted a three-point play to give Dallas a 33-21 lead with 8:58 to go before halftime, but Oklahoma City rallied back by going 5 for 5 on 3-pointers the rest of the half. Harden's 3 from the left side put the Thunder up 56-54 at the half.

NOTES: Even without the foul trouble, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle had hoped to trim down Nowitzki's average of 37.7 minutes per game. He averaged the same playing time last season but 36 minutes each of the previous two seasons. "I'd like to get his minutes a little bit down," Carlisle said. "On average, he's at 37 and change, which isn't that much. But again, a minute or two here and there always helps." He played 36 minutes. ... Oklahoma City followed its lowest scoring first quarter of the season (16 points) with its highest scoring period of the season (40). ... Stevenson became the first Dallas player to wear No. 92. His usual No. 2 jersey was taken by Kidd.

[Associated Press; By JEFF LATZKE]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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