MINNEAPOLIS -- If Dallas is truly going to get back in the Western Conference playoff race, the Mavericks have to take advantage of the soft spots of the schedule. That's exactly what happened Sunday night at Minnesota.
With Vince Carter scoring 22 points and Dirk Nowitzki adding 16 points and nine rebounds, the Mavericks rolled to a very routine 100-77 victory over the Timberwolves. It was the third victory in the row for Dallas and the Mavs have now won four out of five.
Carter, who went 4-for-5 from behind the 3-point line, has reached double figures in five consecutive games and is averaging 16 points per game in March.
Derrick Williams scored 18 points to lead Minnesota -- which has now last eight of nine -- while J.J. Barea added 16 points.
While Dallas has been wildly inconsistent this season, the Mavericks largely did the expected against a Minnesota team that has been plagued by injuries and were playing the second half of a difficult back-to-back. The Mavericks held Minnesota to only 36.4 percent shooting while outrebounding the Timberwolves 59-40.
After a sluggish first quarter from both teams, Dallas quickly took control of the game and pushed its lead to double digits early in the second quarter. Led by Carter, the Mavericks scored the first 15 points of the second quarter. Mike James capped a 22-3 spurt with a 3-pointer that put Dallas ahead 39-21 with 8:36 to play in the second quarter.
A first-half lead of double digits frequently doesn't last in the NBA, but it did on this night. Dallas never again saw its lead shrink below 10. The Mavs led by 12 at halftime and by 17 after three quarters. The lead was extended to more than 20 in a fourth quarter that lacked any sort of drama.
The only thing that didn't go as planned for Dallas was that O.J. Mayo appeared to turn his right ankle while being called for a charge with 2:50 to play in the third quarter. Mayo did not return, but it didn't appear to be a serious injury.
Brandan Wright added 13 points for Dallas while Elton Brand scored 10 as the Mavericks bench outscored Minnesota's reserves 58-22.
NOTES: The Timberwolves had a difficult back-to-back turnaround Sunday. Between losing an hour during the return flight from Denver, losing an hour because of daylight savings time and an early start, Minnesota tipped against the Mavericks just 21 hours after the start of Saturday's game against the Nuggets. Wolves coach Rick Adelman said he got home about 4:30 a.m. Sunday. "The sun wasn't up yet, so that was a good thing," Adelman said. ... Dallas entered the game 11th in the Western Conference standings and 3 1/2 games back of the No. 8 Los Angeles Lakers. The Mavs have played better of late, winning three of four in March. "Our nemesis is inconsistency, we're fighting to be more consistent," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "We're showing signs of doing some things better." ... The Mavericks again played without forward Shawn Marion, who has now missed two games in a row with a left calf contusion.