Sports

Thunder and Mavericks clash in Big D

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oklahoma City Thunder continue their push to the postseason Monday night, but will face a stiff challenge when they visit American Airlines Center to take on the Dallas Mavericks.

The Thunder have won two straight and inched past a tie with the New Orleans Pelicans for the eighth playoff spot. The Pelicans lost to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday to fall a game behind OKC.

Dallas is in a virtual tie for the fifth seed with the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers. A three-way tie, theoretically, and with a lot of time left, would mean the loser could fall to seventh, so wins are important for the Mavericks as well.

The Thunder won their second in a row Sunday afternoon with a 109-100 home victory over the Chicago Bulls.

He was unable to record his ninth triple-double of the season, but Russell Westbrook still came up big for the Thunder. Westbrook scored 14 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter and added 11 rebounds and six assists as Oklahoma City moved eight games above .500 for the first time this season.

Enes Kanter led five other Thunder players in double figures with 18 points and 18 rebounds. Steven Adams contributed 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Dion Waiters, Anthony Morrow and D.J. Augustin each scored 11.

"Our guys did a great job of staying with it," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "I liked the fact that we came out and just kept competing. We were getting a lot of good shots around the basket."

In a back-and-forth final quarter, neither team led by more than three until Westbrook's layup at 4:16. The Bulls were within one with less than two minutes to play, but Westbrook carried the team to the finish line.

After his free throw extended Oklahoma City's lead to 97-95, he stole the ball from Nikola Mirotic at the other end and flew down the court for a layup. On the next possession, he set up Morrow for a 3 to put the Thunder up seven with 40 seconds left. Westbrook scored five more points in the final minute to help seal the win.

After Monday's game, the Thunder play four straight at home against the Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers.

The Mavericks have won two of three and their contest against the Thunder will be game three of a five-game homestand. Dallas welcomes the Orlando Magic and Memphis Grizzlies on this stay.

After a 33-point home loss to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to open the homestand, the Mavs came back on Friday and squashed the Clippers, 129-99.

Chandler Parsons led seven Dallas players in double figures with 22 points.

Parsons went 5-of-6 from 3-point range, part of a 16-for-28 performance for the Mavs from long distance. Charlie Villanueva added 19 points, while Devin Harris and J.J. Barea each scored 15.

"The defense dictated the offense, guys were moving the ball, we were playing unselfish basketball," Villanueva said. "Sometimes the shots didn't go in, but we made it up on the defensive end. The ball was a hot potato out there tonight, and it was a snowball effect. We gotta keep it going."

Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler and Monta Ellis each provided 14 points for the Mavericks. Chandler added 12 rebounds.

The Mavericks pulled away by shooting 13-of-21 in the third quarter. Ellis and Parsons each scored eight in the period.

The two teams split two meetings this season with the home team prevailing. Including the postseason, the Thunder are 5-2 in their last seven in Dallas.