Brooks said his team's approach did not change after Nowitzki left.
â€œNo, not at all,â€ Brooks said. â€œThey're a deep team. They have their record (at) 24-5 because they have a group of talented guys that play well. Dirk is not the only guy on their team. He's a terrific player, and he's one of the best players, but he's not the only guy on their team.â€
Durant agreed and said: â€œThey still have a lot of weapons. It's more than just Dirk. They played tough, man, and you've got to give them credit for making big shots."
Kevin Durant finished with a game-high 28 points. Going into Monday night's game, he was averaging 18.7 points and shooting 37.4 percent from the field in his 11 previous meetings against Dallas, which are his second-lowest averages against an opponent (Orlando 17.6 and 37.0 percent).
Casey essentially serves as the Mavs' defensive coordinator. Asked what the key is to defending Durant, Casey jokingly said: â€œIf I knew, I'd tell you, but I'd have to shoot you. â€¦ He's one of the toughest covers in the NBA. As soon as he walks into the arena, the rim is open to him.â€
Dallas does what many opponents attempt to do against Durant, which is use multiple defenders, multiple looks and multiple defenses.
â€œOne guy doesn't stop him,â€ Casey said. â€œThe key thing is you don't want to send so much attention to him that now (James) Harden goes off for 25 or 30, and there's (Russell) Westbrook getting 25 or whatever, and then there's Jeff Green. They're one of the toughest trios in the whole league, and we know that. We know we're not going to shut all his water off. We just want to let it slow drip a little bit.â€
Dallas (24-5) does not lose often, and when it does, it hasn't been by much. Four of the Mavs' five losses had been by one, two, four and five points.
Amazingly, the Mavericks are 11-1 on the road, with that lone loss being a 99-97 setback at New Orleans. Even more surprising is that Dallas has lost four times at home â€“ to Memphis, Denver, Chicago and Milwaukee.
Casey was a member of the 1978 national championship team at Kentucky and served as an assistant at Kentucky under former Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton (1985-89).
One of Casey's fellow assistants with the Mavs is former Oklahoma player Terry Stotts. Playfully asked if Stotts might still have some personal feelings toward Oklahoma City, Casey smiled and said: â€œTerry's an Oklahoma guy. Loves Oklahoma, follows them religiously. I told him when they get their fifth national championship like Kentucky, then come talk to me.â€
Television ratings for the Thunder's game against Denver on Christmas Day were up 27 percent from last year's ESPN game in the same time slot (L.A. Clippers vs. Phoenix). The game had a 1.4 fast national rating. In Oklahoma City, the game registered a 4.1 metered market rating.
The Miami-Lakers game had a 6.4 rating; Boston-Orlando was 4.6, Chicago-New York was 2.7 and Portland-Golden State was 1.3.
Other local market ratings included a 15.5 in Miami, the highest-rated regular-season game ever on ABC. Los Angeles was at 15.0 on ABC; Orlando at 8.0 on ABC; New York at 4.2 on ESPN; and Portland at 3.0 on ESPN.
â€œI love it. Dallas is number one, and OKC is a close second as far as the best fans in the NBA. It's unbelievable. They are here early, and they stay late. They cheer, and they're just unbelievable. It's great to know that in a small market like this you have diehard fans, and they are some of the best.â€ â€“ Terry