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  • Both teams biggest stars will play tonight. Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki has missed the last two games with a strained right hip. He practiced Sunday, felt fine at shoot-around this morning and is a go tonight. Dallas has struggled with and without Nowitzki. The Mavs are 13-16 without him in the lineup and 7-11 with him. The Mavs will be without Vince Carter tonight though, he’s ill and will not play so head coach Rick Carlisle will once agains shuffle his rotation, “it’s a challenging year,” he said, “nothing comes easy, ever.” Carter was averaging 19 points and 28 minutes in two games vs. OKC this season.
  • Thunder forward Kevin Durant was accidentally kneed in the ribs during Saturday’s loss in Cleveland. He spent some time in the Thunder locker room then finished the game. After today’s shoot-around Durant said he’s still a little sore but will play. He’s had great success against the Mavericks this season, scoring a career-high 52 points in Dallas on January 18th and 40 on December 27th in OKC.
  • Mavs center Chris Kaman is not with the team as he continues to recover from a concussion. Even though the Mavs are short-handed Carlisle wants his team to play uptempo and attack the Thunder, “we’ve gotta play fast and be aggressive,” he said in the back hallway before tonight’s game, “we just can’t be frantic and stupid.”
  • This is the third game these teams have played this year, Oklahoma City won each of the first two with both games going into overtime. The Thunder are 4-1 this season in OT, the Mavs just 1-8.
  • OKC is coming off a Saturday night loss to Cleveland. The Thunder are 10-1 in “bounce-back” games this season and 45-10 in games following losses over the last three seasons.

– Randy Renner

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