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  • Including last season’s playoff sweep, Oklahoma City has won nine straight against Dallas. Two of their first three meetings this year went to overtime. Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said it’s a different Mavericks team with a healthy Dirk Nowitzki, who has posted three consecutive double-doubles and helped Dallas win five of its last six. “The last five or six games, you see that his legs are underneath him now. He’s able to get up and down the court and not be as fatigued. I’m assuming that’s what is happening because he’s playing much better,” Brooks said. “Anytime you get your players back, your team’s going to be much better. We’ve always played each other tough.”
  • Mavericks forward Shawn Marion (left calf strain) will miss his sixth straight game, leaving the primary job of defending the league’s leading scorer to rookie Jae Crowder. Kevin Durant scored a career-high 52 points in his last trip to Dallas on Jan. 18, including a 21-for-21 effort at the free-throw line. “He’s going to guard him to start the game,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s not just, ‘Hey, go guard that guy.’ We’ve got to have the whole defense set up to help and … with guys like him, you could have everything set up right and he might just jump up and hit a shot.”
  • It’s a homecoming of sorts for veteran Thunder guard Derek Fisher, who played nine games for the Mavericks earlier this season (Dec. 1-18), averaging 8.6 points and 3.4 assists in 25.4 minutes before asking for his release citing a sore knee and a desire to be with his family in Los Angeles. “I’m so excited, I can’t stand it,” Dallas owner Mark Cuban joked with reporters before the game. “I’ll boo him like everybody else.”
  • Reserve Thunder center Hasheem Thabeet is out for the second straight game with a sore lower back. He has appeared in 56 games this season, averaging 2.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 0.91 blocks in 11.4 minutes per game.

–Dave Ivey

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