NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, February 16th (All times eastern)
Dallas Mavericks (32-20) at Oklahoma City Thunder (30-21), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Dallas Mavericks get to show off their revamped lineup when they close out a three-game road trip Tuesday against Kevin Durant and the surging Oklahoma City Thunder at the Ford Center.
In order to keep pace with the other Western Conference powers, such as the Lakers, Spurs and Nuggets, the Southwest Division-leading Mavs made a deal with Washington this past weekend and acquired Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson, Brendan Haywood and cash in exchange for Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton and Quinton Ross.
The new players are expected to debut this evening, but the biggest attraction will be Butler. Butler averaged 16.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game with the Wizards and will join fellow stars Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry in Big D. Dallas could use a lift since it has dropped five of its last seven games, including a 127-91 blowout at Denver just before the All- Star break last Tuesday.
Nowitzki went 5-of-17 from the field in a 17-point effort for Dallas, which owns a 1 1/2-game lead over San Antonio in the division standings. Nowitzki had 22 points for the Western Conference in a 141-139 loss to the East in Sunday's All-Star game. Jason Terry had 16 points against the Nuggets and is posting 19.7 points, 2.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists in his last 11 starts.
"They didn't let us hang around," Terry said. "If they let us hang around it's a different story, but we're fighting an uphill battle from the jump."
Dallas is 15-4 in games after a loss, the best mark in the NBA, and has a conference-best 17 road wins this season (17-11). The Mavericks won just 18 total road games a season ago. On the injury front for Dallas, center Erick Dampier (knee) and forward Shawn Marion (back/groin) are both listed as questionable for tonight's game.
The Thunder entered the break on a six-game winning streak after handing the Portland Trail Blazers an 89-77 setback last Tuesday in the finale of a perfect three-game road trip. Durant recorded his 16th double-double of the season with 33 points and 11 rebounds, and has scored 30 or more points 30 times to become the first player in team history to post 30 games of 30 or more points since Dale Ellis turned the trick 31 times during the 1988-89 season. Durant also extended his franchise record of scoring at least 25 points in 25 consecutive games, the longest run since Allen Iverson reached the magic number in 27 straight games during his MVP 2000-2001 season.
Jeff Green added 17 points and James Harden scored all 13 of his points in succession for the Thunder in the fourth quarter against Portland. Oklahoma City has won six straight for the first time since ripping off nine straight victories early in the 2004-05 campaign.
"It gives us confidence, and we're feeling good going into the break," said Durant, who had 15 points for the West in the All-Star game and captured his second H-O-R-S-E victory during the weekend festivities. "The most important thing is that we come back ready to play after the All-Star break. We need to enjoy this break but come back with that mindset ready to come back to fight through these last 30 games."
The Thunder are four games behind Denver for the Northwest lead and have won three straight as the host. They own a 15-10 mark at the Ford Center this season.
Dallas has won the first two meetings with Oklahoma City this season and 21 of the past 25 in the series.
02/16 10:39:41 ET