DALLAS (Reuters) - The Oklahoma City Thunder tightened up on defense in the second half to grab a 99-95 road win over the injury-hit Dallas Mavericks on Thursday.
Trailing by as many as 10 points in the first half, the Thunder opened the third quarter with an 11-4 run to take their first lead of the game.
They stretched their advantage to 11 points before the Mavericks' DeShawn Stevenson made it a close contest with a trio of three-pointers in the final 67 seconds.
"But we did play good defense in the second half. I'm proud of the guys' effort. I thought we made a lot of good basketball plays at both ends."
Despite missing Dirk Nowitzki and Caron Butler, the Mavericks started quickly, hitting 59 percent from the floor in the opening two quarters for a halftime 55-51 lead.
However, the Thunder managed to stay within striking distance by scoring 12 points off 10 Dallas turnovers.
"It really was a tale of the first quarter versus the last three," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said.
"We had a very good first quarter with a seven-point lead then we lost the last three quarters. I think the reality is we needed to gain more ground in the first half.
"I think we struggled defensively in the second half, we struggled on the boards, and the timely second chance points were our undoing down the stretch."
Kevin Durant scored a game-high 28 points to lead the Thunder, Jeff Green scored 16, Russell Westbrook scored 15 and Serge Ibaka came off the bench and scored 13.
Shawn Marion lead the Mavericks with a season-high 25, but scored just four in the second half, Jason Terry scored 19 points including nine in the final quarter, and Jason Kidd had 10 assists but did not register a point.
(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario; Editing by John O'Brien)