Does the Thunder need a rival?

Tonight's opponent, the Dallas Mavericks, seem to be a logical choice for a potential Thunder rival.
by Darnell Mayberry Modified: December 26, 2010 at 11:06 pm •  Published: December 26, 2010
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Scott Brooks recently was asked whether his Thunder needs a rival.

The coach assured he already has one.

“Right now, my rivalry is playing against my son,” Brooks said. “I'm undefeated and I want to continue that streak. He's 14. I should have at least a couple of more years.”

By the time Brooks' son, Chance, finally stuns his dad, maybe the Thunder will have developed a rival. For now, Brooks' backyard is as close as anyone associated with the Thunder has come to bad blood.

But as Dallas comes to Oklahoma City Arena for the final time this season tonight to face the Thunder, the sight of the Mavs' royal and navy blue road jerseys will cause some to wonder when the Thunder will find a rival and whether the Mavericks are it.

“They're so close that would be the logical choice,” Brooks said, “But until you really face them and have a lot of heartbreak against them in playoff environments it's hard to say that there is a rivalry.”

Dallas has dealt Oklahoma City enough regular-season setbacks. The Thunder is 3-5 against the Mavs. Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki, meanwhile, has blossomed into the quintessential villain.

In eight career games against the Thunder, Nowitzki has averaged 33.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.5 steals. Nowitzki has shot 59 percent from the field and 40 percent from the 3-point line. And he's made 76 of 82 free throws (92.7 percent).

“I don't think geography does it alone, though,” said Thunder forward Nick Collison.

Collison spent his first five seasons in Seattle and took part in the “I-5” rivalry between the SuperSonics and Portland Trail Blazers. Collison said he remembers those games having more of a rivalry feel.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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Thunder vs. Mavericks

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Oklahoma City Arena.

TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD Ch. 722)

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM.

THREE THINGS TO KNOW

Dallas has won 16 of its past 17 games.

The Mavs defeated the Thunder, 111-103, on Nov. 24 inside Oklahoma City Arena.

Dallas is a league-best 10-1 on the road. The Mavs' lone road loss was a two-point defeat to New Orleans on Nov. 17.

PROJECTED STARTERS

Thunder (21-10)

Pos., Player, Ht., Pts., Reb., Ast

G, Russell Westbrook, 6-3, 22.7, 4.9, 8.1

G, Thabo Sefolosha, 6-7, 6.3, 5.4, 1.6

F, Kevin Durant, 6-9, 28.1, 6.6, 3.1

F, Jeff Green, 6-9, 16.8, 6.1, 2.2

C, Nenad Krstic, 7-0, 7.8, 4.7, 0.4

Mavs (23-5)

G, Jason Kidd, 6-4, 7.9, 4.3, 8.8

G, DeShawn Stevenson, 6-5, 5.7, 1.2, 1.2

F, Caron Butler, 6-7, 14.6, 4.2, 1.7

F, Dirk Nowitzki, 7-0, 24.5, 7.6, 2.4

C, Tyson Chandler, 7-1, 8.8, 9.0, 0.4

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