The Oklahoma City Thunder suffered their most lopsided loss in more than three years at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks last week. But after an explosive offensive performance on Monday, they appear poised to redeem themselves.
Oklahoma City seeks a measure of revenge and a fifth straight win Tuesday night in Dallas.
The Thunder (52-18), who are two games behind San Antonio for the top seed in the West, shot 50.6 percent from the field and 11 of 22 from long distance in a 117-96 home victory over Denver on Monday. They made six 3-pointers in the first 12 minutes en route to a 41-24 lead, and their 72 first-half points were their most in any half this season.
With Russell Westbrook resting his surgically repaired right knee, Reggie Jackson started in his place and tallied 16 points and a career-best 11 assists. Caron Butler was 10 of 19 with 23 points off the bench after averaging 8.1 points on 32.1 percent shooting in his first nine games for the Thunder, who signed him March 1.
Kevin Durant finished with 27 points and eight assists, scoring 25-plus for the 35th straight game.
"You have a system that's functioning," Butler said. "The only thing guys got to do is plug into that system and play a certain style and way and give a certain type of effort, and things just continue to move forward."
Oklahoma City had its seven-game series winning streak snapped with a 109-86 home loss to Dallas on March 16, marking the club's largest margin of defeat since a 111-88 loss in Orlando on Feb. 25, 2011. The Thunder shot 36.7 percent from the field, their worst mark in a home game since shooting 34.3 percent in a Nov. 1, 2009, loss to Portland.
Dallas (42-29) is off to a 2-2 start on a franchise-long eight-game homestand following a 107-104 overtime loss to Brooklyn on Sunday. The Mavericks, whose record is identical to Phoenix's for eighth place, led by as many as 13 late in the third quarter.
"This is not the time to panic," said Monta Ellis, who scored 32 but has tallied 11 or fewer in five of six versus Oklahoma City. "We still have four more home games. We are going to try to get these four."
Dirk Nowitzki was just 2 of 12 from the floor with 10 points, marking the third time in four contests he shot 40.7 percent or worse. He's 1 for 12 from 3-point range over his last three and is averaging 16.0 points with a 37.5 field-goal percentage over his last eight matchups with the Thunder.
Durant scored 30 in the previous matchup and is averaging 32.5 points while hitting 18 of 34 3-point attempts in his last six meetings with Dallas. Westbrook, who sat out the last matchup, is averaging 26.4 points over his last seven games against the Mavericks.
Dirk Nowitzki (DAL): 1st game with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists in over 2 seasons (March 19, 2012 at Nuggets)
Dirk's line tonight: 32 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals
Including the regular season and playoffs, tonight was his 1,306th career game.
It was the first time he's reached all of those thresholds in a single game.