DALLAS — Kevin Durant rose to the basket with the ball in both hands, ready to dunk and help Oklahoma City quell a Dallas rally in the fourth quarter.
The Thunder star was stuffed a foot above the rim by Salah Mejri.
Who? That would be the seldom-used 7-foot-2 Mavericks rookie from Tunisia who rejected a layup attempt by Russell Westbrook earlier in the fourth.
It was OK, though. The Oklahoma City bench backed up 24 points from Durant by scoring 16 in the final quarter, and the Thunder hung for a 109-106 victory over the Mavericks on Friday night, extending their winning streak to a season-best seven games.
"The bench came out huge, point blank," Durant said after the former Texas star’s first game in Dallas in almost two years. "The bench won that game for us tonight."
Chandler Parsons led Dallas with 26 points and nearly extended an NBA-record streak of four straight overtime home games after the Mavericks trailed by 17 with less than 8 minutes remaining.
Parsons’ desperation 3-pointer bounced off the rim just before the buzzer. It was the last of three potential tying 3s in the final 35 seconds for Dallas.
"You’re looking at scoring, but there are other things we didn’t do as a team," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "There are just too many other things that went wrong."
Westbrook had 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and Enes Kanter matched him in scoring to lead three of Oklahoma City’s four reserves finishing in double figures. Dion Waiters (13) and Kyle Singler were the others (10), with Waiters and Singler each scoring six in the final quarter.
The Dallas rally was sparked by Mejri, who first got the crowd going by rejecting Westbrook’s layup and did it again by pinning Durant’s dunk attempt against the backboard with the Thunder leading 107-103 in the final 2 minutes.
Deron Williams, who had 22 points, pulled Dallas within one with a 3, and Durant answered with a jumper. After Wesley Matthews missed a shot from long range, he drew a foul coming around a screen from Serge Ibaka to give the Mavericks another chance.
Williams made a mistake by trying to shoot from inside the arc, but ended up with the loose ball after Ibaka blocked it. Dirk Nowitzki, back in the lineup after missing a game with swelling in his right knee, was off target on a 3 and Parsons missed after grabbing the rebound and heading for the left corner with the clock winding down.
"It was one of those games where you are on the road and it is never pretty," Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan said.
The Thunder have won all three games against Dallas this season, including a 19-point win at home Jan. 13 when the Mavericks sat all five starters on the second night of a back-to-back.
Mejri had 17 points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes in the earlier loss after not scoring all season. He finished with five points this time to go with the two big blocks.
"I don’t hesitate to call anybody’s number on our roster," Carlisle said. "He’s one guy that’s kind of been an odd man out because of our depth at the centre position."
Carlisle, president of the National Basketball Coaches Association, reacted strongly to the firing of Cleveland’s David Blatt despite the Cavaliers leading the Eastern Conference a season after reaching the NBA Finals in his debut. "I’m embarrassed for our league that something like this could happen," Carlisle said before the game. "It’s just bizarre. It just leaves you with a bit of an empty feeling."
DOMINATING THE GLASS
Nick Collison had a game-high 11 rebounds and Kanter added nine to lead a dominant effort by Oklahoma City, which was missing starting centre Steven Adams for the first time this season with a right elbow strain. The Thunder outrebounded the Mavericks 47-33, including 17-7 on the offensive end while outscoring them 17-4 in second-chance points.
Nowitzki scored 14 points on 6-of-15 shooting after a sluggish start coming back from the knee swelling. "I thought he looked good," Carlisle said. "We’re going to monitor his situation closely."
Thunder: Ibaka had 10 of his 14 points in the third quarter, when Oklahoma City outscored Dallas 37-18. … In Wednesday’s win over Charlotte, Westbrook became the fourth player in NBA history with at least 15 points, 15 assists, five rebounds and five steals in a game. He scored 16 points with 15 assists, eight rebounds and five steals in 27 minutes.
Mavericks: Parsons made his 300th career start, and Williams needs one more for 700. … C Zaza Pachulia got a technical for taunting in the fourth quarter. … C JaVale McGee had 11 points, his fifth game in double figures this season.
Thunder: At Brooklyn on Sunday.
Mavericks: At Houston on Sunday.