Mavericks 83, Timberwolves 79

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DALLAS (AP)—For 3 1/2 quarters, Dirk Nowitzki couldn’t find his shot, couldn’t get to the foul line and couldn’t avoid the menacing presence of Kevin Garnett.

Once he did, the Dallas Mavericks were able to pull out an 83-79 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.

Nowitzki scored 13 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, most coming during a 14-3 run over the last 3:04. He tied the game on a put-back of his own miss, then put the Mavericks ahead for good on a three-point play. He was so fired up by hitting the go-ahead jumper and drawing the foul that he walked nearly to midcourt and pointed to the crowd.

“We played ugly, but we found a way to win,” Nowitzki said.

Dallas made a season-low 35.3 percent while allowing Minnesota to make its first seven shots and nearly 50 percent for the game.

But the Mavericks held the Timberwolves to one basket over the final 3:38 to win their second straight and fourth in five games. The exception was a 91-78 loss in Minnesota on Wednesday night.

“They really embarrassed us a couple of days ago,” Nowitzki said. “We wanted to come back and get them, and down the stretch we did.”

The Timberwolves lost for the 10th time in 13 games, dropping them to 15-16. It’s the first time they’ve been under .500 since they were 1-2 on Nov. 5. This also was their sixth straight road loss.

With the loss and a win by Utah, Minnesota fell to second place in the Northwest Division, a half-game behind the Jazz.

Garnett had 26 points and 11 rebounds, and Wally Szczerbiak added 25 and 10. During the late collapse, Garnett was called for an offensive foul and the Wolves were hit with a 24-second violation.

Minnesota committed 20 turnovers for a second straight game, was outrebounded by 12 and gave up 19 offensive rebounds. The Timberwolves didn’t get a single second-chance point because they had only four offensive boards, and two of those came on their final possession.

“We just melted down,” Garnett said. “You can’t beat anybody like that.”

Although both teams were coming off tough games the previous night, this one was tight and fiercely fought throughout—befitting the playoff-like scenario Mavs coach Avery Johnson expected from teams meeting for the second time in four nights and the third time in 21 days.

Neither team led by more than nine points and there were 23 lead changes. Minnesota led by nine early in the fourth quarter and was up 76-69 with 3:38 left. Then Jason Terry began Dallas’ winning rally with a 3-pointer and Nowitzki’s burst followed.

“I thought we just persevered,” said Terry, who scored 11 points.

Garnett scored the Timberwolves’ lone basket in the final minutes on a lay-in with 34 seconds left, but on the ensuing possession he fouled Nowitzki away from the ball and 30 feet from the rim. Nowitzki made both free throws to protect the lead.

“The last couple of calls against me were (bogus),” Garnett said.

Garnett made 11 of 16 shots, hitting all five he took in the third quarter, including a terrific one-handed dunk over Nowitzki off a lob pass.

He wasn’t as great in the end, passing up a shot on the trip that ended with the 24-second clock running out, getting blocked by Erick Dampier on a layup and missing a free throw.

Trenton Hassell was Minnesota’s only other double-digit scorer at 10 points. Marko Jaric fouled out with six after scoring 22 in the previous meeting.

Dallas’ Josh Howard had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Dampier added 10 rebounds.

Nowitzki finished 8-of-24. He was 2-of-10 at halftime and showed his frustration minutes into the third quarter when Szczerbiak fouled him on a drive and Nowitzki shoved him. Garnett came to his teammate’s defense, going jaw-to-jaw with Nowitzki until officials intervened. Szczerbiak and Nowitzki were given technical fouls.

“I didn’t hear a whistle,” Szczerbiak said. “I grabbed his arm and he walked away. Whatever. He sure gets his share of calls.”

Said Nowitzki: “The whistle blew, but Wally pulled me down. Then KG got involved. It was a whole lot of nothing, really.”

Notes

The Timberwolves made their first seven shots. … Mavs G Marquis Daniels missed his second straight game with a strained neck that’s expected to keep him out another two weeks. … Mavs assistant coach Rolando Blackman returned to the bench after being out with pneumonia. … Minnesota last won on the road Dec. 7 in Portland. … Dallas’ Jerry Stackhouse fumbled passes setting up buzzer-beating shots at the end of the second and third quarters.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Minnesota
K. Garnett K. Garnett
11-16,  26 Pts
11 Rebs, 2 Assists
 Dallas
D. Nowitzki D. Nowitzki
8-24,  26 Pts
7 Rebs, 2 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists