The Oklahoma City Thunder notched another big road win Wednesday night thanks to an improved second half of play that helped OKC top the Dallas Mavericks 95-86.
Russell Westbrook paced Oklahoma City with 33 points while the Thunder defense, anchored by Serge Ibaka, held Dallas to 8-of-38 shooting. Ibaka tallied a double-double on the night with 10 blocks and 11 rebounds.
In a game similar to the back-and-forth contests during last year's Western Conference playoffs, the Thunder and Mavericks were caught in a fight to the end.
The Mavericks came out on fire shooting 68 percent in the first quarter to take a 29-21 lead while OKC shot 31 percent from the floor.
At halftime, Dallas held a narrow 52-49 lead over OKC as both teams were without some key players though. OKC's Thabo Sefolosha was held out of yet another game due to a sore right foot while Dallas starting center Brendan Haywood and reserve Lamar Odom were both sidelined. Odom was sent home with a stomach ailment and Haywood was ruled out with lower back tightness.
In the third, Dallas scored only 14 points to the Thunder's 22 and even though the game was still close, it took a big OKC performance in the fourth to close out the game.
With 9:34 to go in the game, Dallas sloppily raced down the court and turned the ball over. OKC cleared out quickly and found a wide open Westbrook for the easy slam dunk. Seconds after the play Dallas coach Rick Carlisle kicked the ball into the stands in frustration and was given his second technical foul of the game which resulted in him being ejected.
In Carlisle's absence former Sooner Terry Stotts stepped in to coach the Mavs the rest of the game.
Westbrook surged to make 12 of the Thunder's 24 points in the final quarter of play while Kevin Durant added 23 points and 13 rebounds on the night.
Jason Terry had 26 points for the short-handed Mavericks, who snapped a three-game winning streak and are 14-9 on the season. Dirk Nowitzki went 2-for-15 from the field and finished with eight points for Dallas. It was Nowitzki's third game back after a four-game absence from dealing with a sore right knee and conditioning issues.
James Harden had 10 points off the bench for Oklahoma City who is now 17-4 on the year and 9-3 on the road.
Oklahoma City returns home this Friday for a Feb. 3 matchup against Memphis at 7 p.m.