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3 things as the Mavericks smother the Thunder, 97-81

Don’t look now, but the Mavericks have won 3 out of their last 4 games.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off an incredible win at the buzzer Wednesday night against the Grizzlies, the Dallas Mavericks showed no signs post-Thanksgiving sluggishness, as they beat up on the weary Oklahoma City Thunder, 97-81.

After the first quarter, it seemed like the Mavs were going to be in for a close one, only leading 25-24. However, after winning the second quarter by 14 points and the third quarter by 8 points, Dallas went into the fourth quarter leading 78-55 and never looked back. The last time these teams met, Paul George lit the Mavs up for 37 points. Tonight was a much different story, as George only scored 2 points on 1-of-12 shooting.

Here’s 3 things we learned from the game tonight.

Dirk has finally rounded into form

And that’s incredible news for the Mavs, who have now won 3 out of their last 4 games, trying their best to climb back into playoff content. Against the Thunder, Dirk scored 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting to go along with 5 rebounds and 4 assists. He also was an incredible plus-26 in only 22 minutes played.

Dirk started the season out looking very much like a 40-year-old in his 20th season, but for now, he’s back to his old efficient self. Let’s enjoy every minute of this while it lasts.

Dennis Smith Jr. had a decent birthday

Smith Jr. turned 20-years-young on Saturday, and for his birthday present, he got to square off with OKC’s superstar point guard, Russell Westbrook. After getting in foul trouble early, Smith Jr. bounced back to have himself a pretty good night, scoring 15 points (6-14 shooting), 4 assists and 2 rebounds in 28 minutes. He probably knows he could’ve played better early on, but I’m sure he’s thrilled to come out with the win more than anything else.

One thing I really like about Smith Jr., is that he doesn’t get down on himself when calls aren’t going his way. He just keeps grinding and tries to find other ways to get going. Smith Jr. is far beyond his years when it comes to mental toughness. It’s going to be a thing of beauty when he starts getting the type of calls other superstar point guards get on a nightly basis.

The new version of Dwight Powell is amazing

Powell didn’t have an overly impressive stat line tonight (10 points, 4 rebounds), but he was super-efficient, going 5-of-6 from the field. His relentless energy is what really stands out, though, and his teammates really feed off of that. In only 15 minutes played, Powell was a plus-18. He’s had himself a really nice 4-game stretch, and wouldn’t you know it, the Mavs have played really well these last 4 games.

It’s nice to see Powell seemingly turning a corner and not relying on shooting threes as much. If he can keep up this level of play, the Mavs will be a much more interesting team this season because of it. Team Tank may have to take a back seat for a little while.