With Dallas' leading scorer in fancy street clothes, the Oklahoma City Thunder finally knocked off the Mavericks, winning the third and final matchup, 99-95, before a sellout crowd of 20,282 inside American Airlines Center on Thursday night.
Nowitzki missed his sixth straight game because of a knee injury he sustained in the previous meeting between these two teams, and the Thunder turned the tables on Dallas in his absence.
Oklahoma City overpowered Dallas in the second half much like the Mavs had done to the Thunder twice this season. This time, Dallas, which also was without third leading scorer Caron Butler because of a season-ending knee injury, had no counter for the Thunder's playmakers.
The Thunder held the Mavs to 34 percent shooting in the second half and 40 points over the final 24 minutes. Nine of Dallas' second-half points came on 3-pointers in the final 1:07, well after the outcome had essentially been decided.
“We missed Dirk the entire game,” said Mavs center Tyson Chandler. “He changes the game.”
In the first two games, Dallas outscored the Thunder 60-34 in the fourth quarter. The Mavs shot 59.5 percent. The Thunder shot 31.7 percent.
On Thursday, Dallas made just eight of 22 shots (36.4 percent) and watched the Thunder convert 10 of 21 field goals.
Oklahoma City had six offensive rebounds in the final frame, leading to seven second-chance points. Serge Ibaka (13 points, eight rebounds) had a putback with 4:23 remaining, and Nick Collison had another stick-back to ice it with 1:18 left to play.
“We didn't settle for jump shots,” said Thunder forward Jeff Green. “We wanted to attack the rim, get to the free throw line and take advantage of our size on the inside.”
The Thunder snapped a two-game losing streak, just its second skid this season, and moved to 24-13.
“It was very important,” said Thunder forward Kevin Durant. “You tend to lose two games in a row, and it starts to snowball. We didn't want that to happen.”
Durant led all scorers with 28 points. Green bounced back from his worst performance of the year two nights earlier at Memphis with a 16-point, nine-rebound effort after failing to grab a rebound against the Grizzlies. Russell Westbrook had 15 points, nine assists and five rebounds.
“Guys really committed to improving after the last few games,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “It takes effort from all guys for us to win. All of our guys have to be committed to playing that way.”