NBA Basketball

Thunder, Mavericks meet for final time

If the Oklahoma City Thunder hear a few more whistles go their way Wednesday night at Dallas, they may have Paul George to thank.

The All-Star forward made his feelings known about the lack of calls OKC's three stars get after the Thunder's victory over Orlando on Monday night. George said he believes there's a different standard for himself, Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook in the eyes of the referees.

"It's tough. We're so aggressive; we play at the rim constantly," George said. "We're just officiated differently, all three of us. And it's tough. At least one of us (should) get the benefit of the doubt.

"But when we're on that floor, no one is getting the better side of that whistle. But we're going to keep attacking, we're going to keep being aggressive. That's our job, to put pressure on them. At some point it's gotta work out for us."

Oklahoma City (35-27) has won three of four going into its last game against Dallas (19-42) this season. The Mavericks lead the season series 2-1 and won 97-81 earlier this season at American Airlines Center.

Thunder coach Billy Donovan agreed with George's officiating assessment.

"Those guys are aggressive players, and listen, there are calls that are missed, there just are," Donovan said. "He's gotten fouled, and he's not getting to the line. I think the same thing can be said for Russell.

"And I'm not trying to get into, like, every single play call, but as much as those two guys are in the lane, they need to be at the free throw line more than they're at the free throw line, in my opinion."

The Mavericks snapped a four-game losing streak with Monday's 109-103 home victory over Indiana. Dallas performed well down the stretch, an uncommon occurrence for the league's worst team in crunch time.

The lack of success late in games falls in line with the view that the Mavs are tanking to improve their lottery odds. Mark Cuban was recently fined $600,000 by the NBA for admitting as much.

But the players and coaches are about to accept losing as a way of life.

"You don't really want a culture here that's just giving up and quitting and not playing hard," Dirk Nowitzki said. "I think it just sets the wrong tone for the future.

"I think it's important for our young guys to learn how to compete and to compete all the time, play hard. You play your minutes hard. That's the only way to get better. That's the only way to play in this league, and whatever happens after the season, we'll just go from there. But for now, you play your minutes hard and you play to win."

More than just ending a skid, the victory over the Pacers came the same day Cuban introduced new interim CEO Cynthia Marshall to help the franchise more forward after Sports Illustrated reported years of improper behavior by former members of the Mavs staff.

"We needed to get a win and get some momentum going," coach Rick Carlisle said. "We have had some good games in the recent days, and weeks, but there is nothing like winning. And the way things are at this moment, with everything going on, it is uplifting for everyone."

Dallas also signed G/F Scotty Hopson to a 10-day contract. Hopson (6-7, 200) went undrafted in the 2011 NBA Draft and began his professional career overseas in Greece.

Updated February 27, 2018

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