Grant Belcher, News9.com
OKLAHOMA CITY – It's just preseason, but back-to-back easy wins over the defending champs is a great way to start the year.
The Oklahoma City Thunder finished off an impressive – if short – preseason with a 87-83 win against the Mavericks on Tuesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
This time with a near-full squad, including Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks struggled to score against a tough OKC defense.
Nowitzki was visibly frustrated at times as he was held to 2-of-10 shooting, including 0-of-3 from long range.
OKC trailed for much of the first half, but finally took a lead on a Daequan Cook jumper with about four minutes to play in the second quarter.
It was part of a 17-4 run to close out the half for Oklahoma City, which game them an eight-point advantage at halftime.
Though the starters didn't play a whole lot in the second half, OKC's bench extended the lead to as many as 23 points on one occasion before truly calling off the attack.
James Harden led the Thunder scoring with 13, and Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant both reached double figures in limited minutes.
It was hard to target just a couple of impressive players for OKC, but a near-sellout crowd was thrilled to see Kendrick Perkins sky for several dunks, something he didn't produce a whole lot of last year with a bummed knee and 35 extra pounds on him.
Perkins had nine points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes of play.
Another bright spot was second-year center Cole Aldrich. The Thunder coaching staff gave Aldrich a vote of confidence earlier in the week when they traded off fellow center Byron Mullens.
Aldrich responded favorably to some increased time in Tuesday's game, putting up six points, eight rebounds and four blocks.
The Thunder dominated nearly every aspect of the game in both preseason games against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year.
Oklahoma City will begin a hectic season on Christmas Day when it hosts the Orlando Magic at 7 p.m.