DALLAS -- How it happened: The Dallas Mavericks couldn’t shoot the rock beyond the first quarter. That’s it. They had the Oklahoma City Thunder frustrated, out of sync and on their way to only their second set of consecutive losses on the season, with the Mavs’ treadmarks firmly on both skids.
Instead, Dallas went from shooting 68.4 percent in first quarter for a 29-21 lead to 33.3 percent in the second quarter and a 52-49 lead at the half. The Mavs shot 15.8 percent in the third quarter and were facing a 71-66 deficit.
Still, after going a combined 12-of-46 in the middle quarters, the Mavs -- playing without Jason Kidd (calf), Brendan Haywood (back) and Lamar Odom (stomach illness) -- and a still-slumping Dirk Nowitzki were in position to hand the Thunder, deemed the best in the West by coach Rick Carlisle (who was ejected) and almost everybody else, likely the most demoralizing of their five losses.
Dallas had already provided one of those with a 100-87 victory Jan. 2 while playing its fourth game in five nights and lacking any identity as a team transitioning on the fly. Portland beat OKC the next night.
But led by Nowitzki’s increasingly worrisome shooting -- 2-of-15 overall and 0-of-5 from beyond the arc, making him 0-of-11 in his three-game return -- the Mavs shot themselves out of the game.
They didn’t hit their first basket of the fourth quarter until halfway through the period. Still, OKC could build a lead only as big as 10, 77-67, with nine minutes to go.
And with 2:14 to go, Shawn Marion’s floating hook tied it up at 85-all. The Thunder's Russell Westbrook then struck for a jumper and a 3-pointer to sandwich a Kevin Durant baseline jumper for a 7-0 run and 92-85 lead with 35.9 to play.
In the end, Dallas couldn't escape its 35.7 percent shooting. Dallas was 8-of-38 from the field in the second half. OKC will take the win, but the Thunder have to wonder what it will take to shake these Mavs.
What it means: The Mavs’ second three-game win streak in the past eight games ended, and they dropped to 14-9 on the season and 1-2 against the Thunder.
Play of the game: This one came early with Jason Terry handling the ball at the top of the circle. Off the dribble, he dished a sharp, no-look scoop pass inside to Brandan Wright, who finished it off with a difficult, leaning hook off the glass from the left side while falling away from the basket. It put Dallas up 19-13 en route to a 29-21 first-quarter lead.
Stat of the day: The Mavs scored 26 of their 52 first-half points in the paint but finished the game with 38, including just two in the 14-point third quarter.