DALLAS -- Youth was served Sunday night by the Dallas Mavericks. Unfortunately it wasn't enough to get the Mavs by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
With Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd not playing, the Mavs weren't at their optimum best. Thus, the Thunder got 16 points from James Hardin and eased out of American Airlines Center with a 106-92 win in the preseason opener for both teams.
Nowitzki and Kidd sat out -- neither player is hurt -- and the Mavs fell behind by as much as 23 points in the second half.
"My assessment of the game was that our defense is going to have to be better, obviously," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "With a team with their kind of athleticism, you've got to be really precise."
Oklahoma City shot 56.9 percent from the field and outrebounded the Mavs 45-33 as the two teams met for the first time since Dallas eliminated the Thunder in five games last June in the Western Conference Finals. Dallas shot 38 percent from the floor, and expectedly looked lethargic without Nowitzki and Kidd.
The Mavs got 14 points and seven rebounds from Lamar Odom. But it was the young players -- headed by Dominique Jones and Rodrigue Beaubois -- who rallied the Mavs within 93-88 of the Thunder with 5:04 left.
Jones and Beaubois each scored 17 points, and Ian Mahinmi added eight points and five rebounds.
"The group in the fourth quarter was a bright spot because they really did some solid things defensively," Carlisle said. "We were able to put together some possessions without fouling, which was a big, big problem throughout the night.
"Roddy and Dominique did a good job penetrating and making things happen, and [point guard Jerome] Randle is a kid that brings energy to the game, too."
Beaubois, who has endured foot problems his first two NBA seasons, was 7 of 13 from the floor, including 3 of 6 from beyond the 3-point arc.
"I feel better," Beaubois said. "I just need to keep pushing myself, but I feel better."
Odom was 5 of 11 from the field and 2 of 3 from 3-point range while playing 23 minutes. Acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 10, Odom said he's still trying to get his legs under him.
"Lamar Odom is going to be a fan favorite here just because of the kind of player he is," Carlisle said. "You can tell by his body language that he is just a really likable guy.
"He's a competitor, he's been a part of a lot of winning, and our fans recognize that. They know the problems he's given us over the years."
Kevin Durant led all scorers with 21 points in just 23 minutes. Last year's NBA scoring leader did practically whatever he wanted to on the court.
"Our defense was pretty good,'' said Durant, who was 13 of 14 from the charity stripe. "We were making our rotations and helping each other out, ands we got to the free throw line."
The Mavs open the regular season at home Sunday against the Miami Heat. They face the Thunder again at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Oklahoma City in the final preseason game. In all, Dallas and Oklahoma City play each other four times in a 16-day span.
That prompted Carlisle to say: "It's going to be like we're in a playoff series with them again."
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760