Mavericks 100, Thunder 86

Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks found a way to outshine

even Kevin Durant’s new Creamsicle orange Nike sneakers.

Nowitzki scored 13 of his 35 points in the final 8 minutes and

the Mavericks used a late surge to spoil Durant’s sneaker debut and

beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-86 Wednesday night for their

fifth straight win.

Durant broke out his new KD2 sneakers for the first time, and

most of his teammates joined him in wearing the new Nike shoes. But

Durant, the NBA’s third-leading scorer, matched his lowest-scoring

total of the season with only 12 points on 4-for-18 shooting.

“We knew what we were getting into,” Dallas coach Rick

Carlisle said. “We knew this was a very big game for them, and

it’s a big game for us too because they all count.”

Despite Durant’s struggles, the Thunder led 75-71 after holding

the Mavs scoreless for the first 4 minutes of the fourth quarter.

Nowitzki, who was coming off a season-low 10 points himself, broke

the drought with a jumper from the left block and Dallas took off

from there.

J.J. Barea’s jumper from the foul line gave the Mavs the lead

for good at 77-75 with 7:04 to play, and Nowitzki extended the lead

with jumpers on back-to-back possessions. He added a steal and

blocked James Harden’s layup, then also found Erick Dampier under

the basket for a layup before banking in a 3-pointer to give Dallas

its first double-digit lead at 90-80 with 1:44 left.

Nowitzki also finished with 11 rebounds for his ninth

double-double of the season.

“I know you guys talk about Dirk’s scoring, but I think it’s

his defense that has got him going. … People are always going to

talk about his offense, but I think right now his defense I think

has been the best that I’ve ever seen,” Dallas point guard Jason

Kidd said.

Reserve Josh Howard had 15 points, Shawn Marion scored 12 and

Dampier finished with 10 for Dallas. Dampier also swatted Durant’s

layup try in a 21-5 run that put the Mavs in control.

Russell Westbrook led Oklahoma City with 16 points. Jeff Green

added 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Harden had 12 points off the

bench. All wore Durant’s new signature sneaker, brought out on one

of few national television appearances for the Thunder after they

won only 23 games a season ago.

“I was frustrated in myself but I was still cheering my

teammates on, trying to play hard on the defensive end,” Durant

said. “We fought all night. Sometimes you’re going to have those

nights.”

Durant didn’t hit his first 3-pointer until the final minute,

when the Thunder were down by 11. He had scored at least 25 points

in nine straight games, the longest streak in the NBA, before being

held to less than 20 points for only the fourth time this

season.

“There’s 82 games. You can’t play well in all 82,” Durant

said. “That’d be nice, but I don’t think that has ever

happened.”

Durant said he tried to get his teammates involved early as the

Mavericks double-teamed him off screen-and-roll plays and continued

“blitzing” him.

“You have those nights, but it’s all about bouncing back and

getting better the next day. That’s what I’m about,” Durant

said.

Oklahoma City has lost three in a row for the second time this

season and fell back to .500 at 12-12.

Dallas withstood Oklahoma City’s 9-for-11 shooting start and

rallied back from a 19-10 deficit to tie it at 24 on Jason Terry’s

3-pointer in the closing seconds of the first quarter. The Thunder

kept Dallas at bay until midway through the third quarter, when

Nowitzki hit a 13-foot jumper in the lane to give the Mavs a 57-56

edge – their first lead since the opening minutes.

He had another jumper sandwiched between baskets by Howard as

the Mavericks scored six in a row to go up 66-60, and the lead

reached seven when Nowitzki stole the ball and hit a 3-pointer. But

Oklahoma City used a 13-2 charge to go back ahead. Serge Ibaka’s

two-handed jam off an offensive rebound put the Thunder up 75-71

with 8:18 to play.

NOTES: Even Ibaka and Etan Thomas, the two Oklahoma City players

who wear adidas shoes, picked out orange ones. The Thunder also

distributed orange rally towels to the sellout crowd of 18,203 …

Howard continued his comeback from offseason left ankle surgery

with a season-high 29 minutes for the second straight game.

“Having him off the bench, it’s a plus for us right now. His

minutes have been inching up gradually. That’s probably good,”

Carlisle said. … The Tulsa 66ers, Oklahoma City’s NBA Development

League affiliate, signed former Virginia Tech guard Zabian Dowdell

on Wednesday and waived guard Mitch Johnson.