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Thunder Looks To End Road-Skid Against Mavericks

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Riding a two-game losing streak, the Thunder continues its road trip in Dallas on Sunday night when it takes on the Mavericks at 7:30 p.m.

Related: Suns Hand Thunder Second Straight Loss Despite Huge Game From Westbrook

Here are a few things to know about the matchup:

Mavericks are playing well

Despite a disappointing start to the season, the Mavs decided to take a step towards improvement at the trade deadline by acquiring Nerlens Noel from the Philadelphia 76ers. It appears to be an incredible trade so far, seeing Dallas is 3-1 since Noel has joined the team and has wins over Memphis, Miami and the new-look Pelicans.

Noel made his first start for the Mavericks in the win over the Grizzlies and he made the most of his opportunity. Noel scored 15 points and hauled in a career-high 17 rebounds as the Mavs moved 2.5 games back from the No. 8 seed in the West.

Noel isn’t the only Maverick on the up and up. Harrison Barnes is having a solid season in his first year in Dallas, while guards Seth Curry and Yogi Ferrell have surprisingly stepped up in a big way. While he may not be apart of the young Mavs’ core, Dirk Nowitzki is averaging 13.5 points per game in 26.3 minutes and is a threat to catch fire at any time.

Thunder losing games it shouldn’t

After blowing a sizeable fourth-quarter lead in Portland on Thursday night, the Thunder turned around and lost to a rebuilding Suns team on Friday despite 48 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists from Russell Westbrook.

Not only has the Thunder dropped two consecutive games, but they’ve dropped its last six road games and things won’t get much easier against an improving Mavs team on Sunday night.

OKC currently sits at the No. 7 spot in the West standings with 19 games left on the schedule. With three games separating the Thunder and the Jazz for the No. 4 seed and homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs, it’s important that OKC doesn’t have too many more blunders.

Oladipo out again

Thunder guard Victor Oladipo will miss his sixth consecutive game on Sunday as he continues to recover from back spasms. Oladipo hasn’t played since the team returned from the all-star break and the Thunder is 3-2 over that span.

Rookie Alex Abrines has filled in for Oladipo in the starting lineup and is averaging 12.4 points per game while shooting nearly 52 percent from 3-point range. While he’s done a great job on the offensive end, Abrines has struggled at times on defense and is averaging 4.2 fouls over the last five games.

Look for Abrines and the newly acquired Doug McDermott to continue to soak up most of Oladipo’s minutes until he’s cleared to return. 

You can follow Brett on Twitter: @BrettCope

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