Thunder try to extend dominance over Mavs
(SportsNetwork.com) - With Russell Westbrook back in the fold for the Oklahoma City Thunder, the three-time defending Northwest Division champions are locked and loaded.
The Thunder will play their second straight home game Wednesday versus the Dallas Mavericks and are coming off Sunday's 103-96 victory over the Phoenix Suns. Westbrook returned from offseason surgery to post 21 points and seven assists.
"I could be better but that's all right. That's expected. I'm not expected to come back and be bionic man. I'm just going to work my way through it," Westbrook said.
Westbrook tore the meniscus in his right knee in Game 2 of the Thunder's first round playoff series with Houston a year ago. He underwent a pair of surgeries and was expected to miss the first 4-to-6 weeks of the regular season, but team doctors cleared him to play prior to Sunday.
Kevin Durant, the NBA's leading scorer at 29.3 ppg, dropped a game-high 33 points with 10 rebounds for the Thunder, who used fourth quarter runs of 8-0, 5-0 and 6-0 to take control and improve to 2-1 on the season. The Thunder were coming off a loss at Minnesota.
It also helped that Oklahoma City made 31-of-37 free throws, including a combined 22-of-27 from Durant and Westbrook.
Dallas will play three in a row on the road against OKC, Minnesota and Milwaukee, and is 3-1 this season.
The Mavericks have won two straight, including Tuesday's 123-104 dismantling of the Los Angeles Lakers in Big D, where Monta Ellis led seven players in double-digit scoring with 30 points. Jae Crowder (18), Jose Calderon (12), Shawn Marion (11), Dirk Nowitzki (11), Samuel Dalembert (10) and DeJuan Blair (10) were the other double figure scorers.
"Monta is a great scorer," Crowder said, "but he's a great passer as well. When he drives to the lane he collapses the defense so much and always makes the right pass to the open man."
Ellis, who handed out nine assists, is seventh in the NBA with 25.0 ppg and has posted two games with at least 30 points and eight assists this season.
Dallas made 52.1 percent for the game and 13-of-27 3-pointers. Calderon and Crowder sank four 3-pointers apiece for the Mavs, who had a 67-48 lead at halftime and a 52-36 advantage in the paint. Dallas led by as many as 30 points (90-60) in the third quarter and had 34 assists to 12 turnovers.
Wednesday's game between Dallas and Oklahoma City should be a high-scoring affair, highlighted by lightning-quick guards in Westbrook and Ellis. Dallas is averaging 114.3 points per game this season, which ranks second in the NBA behind the Los Angeles Clippers (119.0).
The Thunder took all four games against the Mavericks last season and have won six straight, eight of nine and 10 of the previous 13 encounters in this series. Dallas is winless in its last four visits to OKC.
11/06 10:17:49 ET