The NBA's old met the league's young Friday night. And let's just say the future looks a lot brighter for the kids than the geezers.
But when it came to making clutch plays in the here and now, the Mavericks found a way to pull out a game they probably deserved to lose.
Overcoming a 12-point deficit in the final five minutes regulation, then fending off an Oklahoma City rally, the Mavericks got heroic efforts from Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd to grind out a 110-108 victory over a game-but-shorthanded Thunder team that played most of the game without young star Kevin Durant.
Nowitzki made a 3-pointer with 1:39 to go in overtime to put the Mavericks up 103-99. Russell Westbrook, who had a stellar night for the Thunder, missed a trey but would later score on a nice drive to make it a two-point game.
That set up Kidd as Nowitzki found him with a nice pass in the corner and Kidd drilled a 3-pointer to seal it with 20.7 seconds left. The Mavericks made their free throws the rest of the way to keep the Thunder from ever having a chance to tie the game.
The Mavericks were 1-of-15 from 3-point range in regulation. They hit 3-of-6 in overtime.
The Mavericks had fumbled around for three and a half quarters, trailing 87-75 with five minutes left after the rookie guard Westbrook had run circles around them.
But Nowitzki converted a three-point play, the first of 16 consecutive points for the Mavericks that included a key offensive put-back by Singleton, who is quickly emerging as the Mavericks' most effective interior player.
The Thunder's Jeff Green hit a 3-pointer, but Josh Howard and Dirk Nowitzki scored and Jason Kidd stole the ball twice, and still the win wasn't sealed. Up 95-90, the Mavericks fouled Westbrook on a 3-point heave. He hit the first two free throws, then Nenad Krstic got the rebound and Westbrook nailed a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left to tie the score.
The Thunder is considered one of the league's most promising young teams. They weren't bad on Friday, even with Durant out.
Durant is the league's fourth-leading scorer at better than 26 points per game. He apparently got legs tangled up with Erick Dampier and hobbled to the locker room with just over seven minutes gone in the game. He was diagnosed with a sprained right ankle. X-rays showed no structural damage.
There is no underestimating Durant's worth. He has emerged quickly as a star for the transplanted Seattle SuperSonics.
"He's a great young player, and I don't use the word great very frequently,'' Rick Carlisle said. "He's a guy who has great ability, great skill and as time has gone on, he's really playing the game the right way. He's gotten much more efficient. They're going to make progress very quickly.
"As difficult as it is, sometimes success isn't based purely on wins, it's based on progress. And they've made progress.''
Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks couldn't have agreed more. He said Durant's upbringing has more to do with his strong second season in the NBA.
"He was raised very well,'' Brooks said. "It's not because he was coached by me. He has a professionalism that is beyond his age. He strives to be great.
"I've been on teams where the best player wasn't the hardest worker and that kind of trickled down. The coach had trouble because you couldn't tell the best player what to do. But Kevin brings it every day. He's in the gym early and stays after.''
Terry cleared to practice: Jason Terry's got terrific news during his visit to team physician Dr. T.O. Souryal on Friday.
"I'm back on the runway,'' Terry said.
OK, maybe back on the tarmac might be more accurate, but Terry was cleared to resume practicing with the team.
The problem is that the Mavericks probably won't have a legitimate practice until next week. They are taking today off and have games on Sunday and Monday, although they may have an extended shootaround before the Toronto game on Sunday.
Coach Rick Carlisle said he wasn't anticipating Terry playing before Wednesday against San Antonio.
"I just don't know what the timetable is,'' he said. "It's certainly not going to be in the next three games, from what I understand.
"I just know we have every different kind of batting glove and gardening glove and padding device ever seen by man hanging around the training room. But when all that stuff gets put to use, I don't know.''