DALLAS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves began Monday's game without five injured players, and in third quarter, they lost center Nikola Pekovic to a sprained ankle.
Shrugging off their latest injury, the Timberwolves rode a balanced effort to a 90-82 win over the sliding Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center.
Five Minnesota players scored in double figures, led by Pekovic, who finished with 20 despite leaving in the third quarter. Alexey Shved chipped in with a season-high 16 points off the bench, including a long 3-pointer in the fourth quarter that essentially put Dallas away.
"We had a pretty gutsy performance by us tonight," Timberwolves guard Luke Ridnour said. "People stepped up, and it was a great team win tonight. With all the guys we have out and losing Pekovic in the (third) quarter, our team stepped up. Our defense is really allowing us to be in games and win games."
It was a frustrating night for the Mavericks, punctuated by coach Rick Carlisle get tossed with five minutes left for protesting a foul call. Minnesota outrebounded Dallas 49-35 in a matchup that lacked several starters on both sides.
"A game like tonight, it feels like you're a zillion miles from being a good team," Carlisle said, "but we're not as far away as it feels."
Minnesota (5-2) is off to its best seven-game start since 2001. The Wolves, who won for the fourth time in five games, also have three victories in their past four meetings against the Mavericks.
Dallas (4-4) lost its third game in a row, and it dropped a home game for the first time this season.
Darren Collison topped the Mavs with a season-high 21 points, with O.J, Mayo netting 18. Dallas shot 36 percent for the game.
"We just felt like we weren't making shots today," Collison said. "We weren't making shots that we normally make. We had some open looks. We missed some layups that we usually make. Tonight just didn't go our way."
Andrei Kirilenko had 15 points and 11 rebounds for Minnesota, which got 15 points from Ridnour and 14 points and eight boards from Dante Cunningham off the bench.
The Timberwolves took it to Dallas throughout the second half, quickly doubling a six-point halftime edge and staying out in front from there. Cunningham made three jumpers in the third quarter as the visitors outscored the Mavericks 21-19.
Minnesota opened up as much as a 13-point lead before losing Pekovic. The Wolves were a plus-21 in scoring with the 26-year-old center on the floor. Losing players has become routine for Minnesota.
"I would give credit to our character because nobody has their head down or feels sorry about what's happening," Kirilenko said. "I think as a team ... we played good team defense, and that really helps.
"If you look at the stats, everybody is scoring nine to 14 points. The scoring is very spread out, and you don't really know who's going to score next time. This is why we've been successful so far."
Carlisle burned through timeouts in the first half. He took two in the first quarter, displaying his unhappiness with what he was seeing. The Timberwolves were a step quicker and more aggressive.
Carlisle seemed to light a fire under his team with another timeout after Minnesota went up 29-17 early in the second quarter. The Mavericks responded with a 9-2 spurt that prompted Wolves coach Rick Adelman to call for a break.
Minnesota pushed that lead back out to 11 points before another Dallas spurt. The Mavericks appeared to grab back some momentum, but Vince Carter foolishly fouled Ridnour at halfcourt with 0.2 seconds left before halftime.
Ridnour hit both free throws to give Minnesota a 45-39 lead at the break. Pekovic had 13 points and five rebounds at the half, with Kirilenko adding 12 points and Shved scoring eight.
Mayo had nine points for the Mavericks through two quarters. None of his teammates had more than five, as Dallas shot 34.9 percent.
"I just know I've got to coach these guys harder and keep getting them better," Carlisle said. "It's tough. We got carved up in the first half. Our effort wasn't where it needed to be."
NOTES: Minnesota was without guard Brandon Roy (knee), guard J.J. Barea (foot) and forward Chase Budinger (knee). Guard Malcolm Lee made his first career start in Roy's place. Adelman hopes to get Roy and Barea back Wednesday. Wolves forward Kevin Love (hand) and guard Ricky Rubio (knee) have been out all season. ... Dallas was without forward Shawn Marion (knee) and forward Dirk Nowitzki (knee). ... The Mavericks went into the game averaging 20 more points at home than on the road this season.