Basketball

Mavs lose Nowitzki, win game

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Dallas Mavericks were already without their coach after knee surgery, then lost Dirk Nowitzki to his own knee injury.

And the Mavericks just kept rolling on the road.

Caron Butler scored 21 points as the Mavericks shook off the loss of Nowitzki in the second quarter to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 103-93, on Monday for their 17th victory in 18 games.

Nowitzki scored 13 points before leaving with 9:10 to go in the second quarter with what the Mavericks said was a sore right knee. Shawn Marion scored 20 points off the bench to help replace him.

“You hate to see the big German go down,” guard Jason Terry said. “But we saw him at halftime and he was smiling. He told us, ‘No problem. You guys got this.’ ”

Dallas improved to 11-1 on the road, best in the NBA, and 24-5 overall.

“Just a great team win,” said Mavs assistant Dwane Casey, running the team while Rick Carlisle recovers from his surgery. “Huge team win. The guys pulled together. We had to get into a rhythm offensively. It took us a while to find it. This should be a huge confidence boost for our guys.”

Casey said he didn’t think Nowitzki’s injury was serious.

Kevin Durant scored 28 points, one game after a season-high 44 points on Christmas against Denver. James Harden had 18 for the Thunder, which dropped its second in a row to the Mavericks this season.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks said his team’s approach did not change after Nowitzki’s injury.

“I knew this team was a defensive team. They have the record of 24-5 because they have a talented group of guys that play well,” he said. “Dirk is one of the best players, but he isn’t the only guy on their team.”

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