How it happened: With Dirk Nowitzki out with a sore right knee after the 9:10 mark of the second quarter, the Mavs hung tough against young Oklahoma City and then relied on their fourth-quarter zone defense to turn the Thunder into a confused and misfiring band of jump shooters.
In Nowitzki's absence, Shawn Marion scored 12 of his 20 points in the third quarter to keep it close, and then -- honk if you've heard this one -- Jason Terry erupted from a deep freeze to go bonkers with nine points in the opening six minutes of the fourth quarter, igniting a 16-5 run that thoroughly demoralized Oklahoma City.
OKC didn't score its 10th of 12 points of the final quarter until the 2:46 mark, and the Mavs pulled away for a most improbable 103-93 victory that, in the end, had the sellout crowd booing the Mavs back to Dallas.
Give full credit to yet another complete team effort, this one ranking as the season's ultimate with the Mavs' star, captain and go-to man watching from the locker room. They also were without coach Rick Carlisle, who was watching from home while recuperating from knee surgery. To make matters even dicier, center Tyson Chandler picked up his fourth foul midway through three quarters.
The bottom line is the Mavs played with some serious attitude and then simply outworked the Thunder at every position. From DeShawn Stevenson (12 points, three 3-pointers) to Caron Butler (21 points, two big jumpers in final 5:11) to Jason Kidd (10 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds in 36 minutes) to Chandler (10 rebounds), who went up high and somehow tipped in a shot with just more than two minutes to go for a 99-91 lead.
The Mavs (24-5) don't want to experience life without Nowitzki for long, but for 2 1/2 quarters Monday night, they aced every test.
What it means: Against all odds, the Mavs extended their road winning streak to eight and their overall run to five in a row. They won't have long to savor this victory. They play Toronto at home Tuesday night with the San Antonio Spurs' first visit of the season looming Thursday.
Play of the game: Jason Terry, with 6-foot-9 Jeff Green in his grill and the shot clock evaporating, somehow drained an awkward 3-pointer from well outside the arc along the left wing to put the Mavs back in front 86-84 with 8:36 to play. It was the start of a 7-0 run, and the Mavs never trailed again.
Stat of the night: On a night when Dirk Nowitzki went down after playing just 11:32, the Mavs had five other players score in double figures, starting with their forward duo of Caron Butler and Shawn Marion. They combined for 41 points.