Mavericks rolled

I figured I’d use that title regardless of the outcome in Dallas; only the voice — active or passive — need change. As it happened, the Mavs were on the receiving end of the rolling, as the Thunder squared the season series 2-2 with a 121-116 win and nailed down a playoff slot.

The Dallas veterans and the Oklahoma City youngsters played more or less evenly most of the night; the Mavs got the early lead, with the Thunder going up eight at halftime and stretching the lead to nineteen in the final frame before Dallas mounted a rally to pull within four. Both sides shot over 50 percent and over 80 percent from the foul line; Dallas outrebounded OKC, 39-34.

Dirk Nowitzki got a third of those 39 boards, and 30 points besides. Jason Kidd added 24 points; Caron Butler had 10 rebounds. Shawn Marion departed early with an injury.

Once again, six of the Thundermen landed in double figures, and it wasn’t all the Durant Show; Kevin had 23, but Jeff Green scored 22, and both Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison contributed 17 to the cause. The Thunder blocked only one shot, but they pulled off 11 steals.

OKC is now 47-28, with seven games left. The 55-21 Lakers lead the West; the Mavs, the Nuggets, the Jazz and the Suns are all stuck 5½ games back at 50-27. That leaves the Thunder in sixth, one game ahead of the idle Spurs. The Trail Blazers, in eighth, have already clinched a playoff spot; they will trail San Antonio by about .003 if they beat the Kings tonight.

Tomorrow: back home, against the Timberwolves, followed by a Tuesday trip to Utah and a Wednesday home date against the Nuggets.

Speaking of Tuesday, it’s a Dallas/Oklahoma City rematch — for the NBA Dance Bracket. The Thunder Girls have defeated the dancers of the Timberwolves and the Spurs already, and they’d like your support on the 6th at

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