Nowitzki hurt, but Mavericks remain hot

The Dallas Mavericks lost Dirk Nowitzki to a knee injury in the second quarter, but beat the host Oklahoma City Thunder, 103-93, on Monday night for their 17th victory in 18 games.

Nowitzki scored 13 points before leaving with 9 minutes, 10 seconds left in the second half with what the team said was a sore right knee. Shawn Marion scored 20 points off the bench.

Kevin Durant had 28 for the Thunder, who dropped their second in a row to the Mavs this season.

Elsewhere:

Dwight Howard had 19 points and 13 rebounds as the Orlando Magic won their third straight game with a 104-88 victory over the New Jersey Nets in Newark, N.J. . . . D.J. Augustin scored 27 points, Stephen Jackson added 23, and the new-look, up-tempo Charlotte Bobcats beat the visiting Detroit Pistons, 105-100, for interim coach Paul Silas' first win. . . . Al Horford had 18 points and 12 rebounds and the Atlanta Hawks topped the Milwaukee Bucks, 95-80, to snap a five-game road losing streak. . . . Michael Beasley had 30 points to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 113-98 win over the stumbling New Orleans Hornets in Minneapolis. . . . Zach Randolph scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half and the Memphis Grizzlies woke up from a slow start to beat the visiting Toronto Raptors, 96-85. . . . LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points and the Portland Trail Blazers posted a 96-91 victory over the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. . . . Kevin Martin scored 20 points as the Houston Rockets won their fifth straight game, beating the visiting Washington Wizards, 100-93.

Heat vs. Lakers: A Christmas TV special

The highly anticipated first matchup between the Miami Heat and the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers drew the highest television rating for an NBA regular-season game on ABC since 2004.

What did I say?

Speaking of the ubiquitous James, the Miami star tried to clarify his words about contraction and the NBA after practice on Monday, saying he "didn't mean to upset anybody" when he called the league "watered down" last week and said it was more popular in the 1980s with fewer teams and more stars on the top squads.

James referenced Minnesota's Kevin Love and New Jersey's Brook Lopez and Devin Harris in his comments last week. On Monday, he insisted he was not suggesting that the Timberwolves and Nets should be shut down. "[I] didn't say 'Let's abandon the Nets and not let them move to Brooklyn', or 'Let's tear down the Target Center in Minnesota'. I never said that."

- Staff and wire reports