Wednesday, March 26, 2014
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Nowitzki, Mavericks Top Thunder Again

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[March 26, 2014]  DALLAS  For the second time in nine days, the Dallas Mavericks sent the Oklahoma City Thunder a message just in case the teams meet in the first round of the playoffs.

Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki had 32 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals in a turn-back-the-clock performance that turned away Kevin Durant and the Thunder, 128-119 in overtime Tuesday at the American Airlines Center.

Nowitzki, mired in a shooting slump in recent games, scored seven points in overtime, including the dagger 3-pointer with 57.2 seconds left that put Dallas ahead 123-115. He finished 11-for-23 from the floor, scoring many of his points over Durant, and 8-for-8 from the free-throw line.

"I wanted to attack a little more instead of hoisting tough shots," Nowitzki said. "I put the ball on the floor a little more tonight. I wasn't hesitating as much. In the fourth, I missed a bunch of shots in a row, but I had to keep attacking more. I was going to keep shooting whatever I got my hands on."

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of the 16-year veteran, "He played great, he played great. He carried us. His emotion and his attitude carried the team. We had some tough stretches, but we just hung in there, kept battling."


Durant finished with 43 points on 15-for-27 shooting, and he added five rebounds and six assists while logging 51 minutes. It was the forward's 13th game of 40 points or more this season, but Durant was relatively quiet after the third quarter, scoring six points late in OT when the game was virtually out of reach.

The Mavericks (43-29) remain in the eighth and final playoff position in the Western Conference, percentage points behind the Memphis Grizzlies and a half-game ahead of the Phoenix Suns.

The Thunder (52-19) trail the San Antonio Spurs by 2 1/2 games for the NBA's best record.

Oklahoma City was outscored 17-8 in overtime and 44-30 in the final 17 minutes.

"They have good players offensively, and it was a shootout tonight," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "They made 3s all over the floor. I thought we could have done a better job contesting some of those shots. We got beat on drives, and we have to be able to stay in front of our man so we don't allow those 3s."

Dallas avoided a third overtime loss on its franchise-record, eight-game homestand, improving to 3-2 with the Los Angeles Clippers coming to town Thursday night.

In less than two weeks, the Mavericks went from losing 11 consecutive games to the Thunder, including a sweep in the 2012 playoffs, to registering consecutive victories and tying the four-game regular-season series. Dallas won in a rout in Oklahoma City on March 16.

"I don't think there is a matchup problem, they just beat us," Durant said. "They move the ball really well, they have some shooters. (Jose) Calderon shot the ball extremely well, and of course you have Dirk. They hit 15 3s this game and 13 3s last game. It's hard to climb uphill when you give up that many points from the 3-point line, but I don't think there is a matchup problem."

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Both teams had chances to win it in regulation. Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook missed a potential game-winning jumper, and Dallas called timeout with 1.8 seconds left. Mavericks guard Vince Carter inbounded to Nowitzki about 30 feet from the bucket. With Westbrook draped all over him, Nowitzki got off a shot and watched it roll out as the sellout crowd collectively gasped.

Calderon forced overtime with a 3-pointer, his fifth of the game, to counter Durant's fifth 3-pointer that gave Oklahoma City a 111-108 lead with 39.9 seconds left.

Calderon scored 16 of his 22 points in the first half. His sixth 3-pointer early in overtime put the Mavericks ahead 116-111. Dallas guard Monta Ellis added 17 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, which started with the Thunder leading 89-84. Carter added 16 points off the bench.

The Thunder got 23 points, seven rebounds and eight assists from Westbrook, who was restricted to 33 minutes due to a sore right knee. Forward Serge Ibaka was in foul trouble throughout and finished with 10 points and five rebounds in 33 minutes. Guard Derek Fisher led three Oklahoma City bench players in double figures with 13 points. He hit three 3-pointers.

NOTES: Thunder G Russell Westbrook returned to action Tuesday for the first time since leaving Friday night's game at Toronto after bumping his right knee. An MRI exam on Saturday revealed no issues. He sat out Monday's home game against the Denver Nuggets. Westbrook remains on a minutes restriction, and he will sit out one game in back-to-back situations. ... Mavericks G Jose Calderon returned to the starting lineup after he was knocked out of Sunday's game against the Brooklyn Nets by an inadvertent elbow to the mouth in the opening minute. ... Mavericks F Shawn Marion made one steal. He needs five more to pass Magic Johnson (1,724) for 17th on the NBA career list. ... Oklahoma City G Thabo Sefolosha (left calf strain) and center Kendrick Perkins (left groin strain) have not begun to practice with the team. Return dates are still not certain for either Thunder starter.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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