The Sports Xchange

NBA Team Report - Dallas Mavericks - GETTING INSIDE

The defending champions are still looking for that elusive first win. They thought they had it in a big way Thursday at Oklahoma City when Vince Carter drained a three-pointer for a one-point lead with 1.4 seconds to go, but Thunder All-Star Kevin Durant hit a 27-foot fall-away at the buzzer for a 104-102 win over the Mavs, sending the Thunder to 4-0 and the Dallas Mavericks to 0-3.

Dallas will try to avoid its first 0-4 start since the 2006-07 season, the year it recovered from an 0-4 start to finish with 67 victories, when it plays the Toronto Raptors at home Friday night.

The Raptors will be well-rested after spending Thursday night in Dallas, and coach Dwane Casey will have his team well prepared to face the Mavs. Casey was a Mavs assistant coach under Rick Carlisle and the architect of the defense that carried Dallas to the title last season.

The Mavs will enter that game with mixed emotions. They were disappointed at failing to put away the Thunder, yet also encouraged after two blowout losses to start the season earlier this week.

"I like the fight we showed for the first time, making stuff hard, trying to get up and play together and fight for each other out there," Dirk Nowitzki said. "That's what's going to get it done in this league. Nothing's going to be given to us. I think we realize as a team that last year is over and we got to build on what we have and the guys that we have, and I think that definitely was a step in the right direction."

-----------------------------------------------

NBA Team Report - Dallas Mavericks - NOTES, QUOTES

--Delonte West was getting a crash course playing point guard on his new team. Now he's also learning the shooting guard position because Vince Carter has been unable to stick as the starter. Backup point guard is actually a critical position for Dallas because it believes it is critical to keep starter Jason Kidd, 38, properly rested throughout the rapid-fire, 66-game schedule. It's made for a tougher than expected transition for West.

"It is tougher coming into a new system, because playing the point you're trying to make sure everyone else is in their spots, and you have new guys also that are a little out of sort," West said. "And then once you get off the ball, you've got to reprogram your mind in a quick second to attacking, and that's going to come."

--Mavs coach Rick Carlisle discounted any talk that forward Lamar Odom looks disinterested on the floor or that he is not fully invested in playing for the Dallas Mavericks. After recording 14 points and seven rebounds in the first preseason game, Odom has been on a downslide. In the first two games he combined for 10 points on just 2-of-16 shooting. Thursday at Oklahoma City, didn't go much better for Odom, who finished with four points on 2-of-11 shooting.

"We're working every day with him," Carlisle said. "We're tweaking things we feel we can tweak with the entire team and my job is to make it a shorter adjustment period if we can and that's what we're working toward."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "If they're picked to win the West, we certainly like that. That's a good sign. We're not too far away then." -- Mavs guard Jason Terry, on Oklahoma City being the popular pick to win the Western Conference.

-----------------------------------------------

NBA Team Report - Dallas Mavericks - ROSTER REPORT

PLAYER NOTES:

--C Brendan Haywood easily had his most productive game of the season after coming under criticism for his slow start. Haywood had eight points and five rebounds. He was a focal point of the offense in the third quarter, going 2-of-5 from the field.

--G Vince Carter has been adjusting to coming off the bench in the last two games and after a slow start to the season he came up big with two buckets late in the game. He hit an 18-foot jumper that brought Dallas within a point with three minutes to go and his three-pointer with 1.4 seconds to play gave the Mavs a 102-101 lead.