MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Dirk Nowitzki overcame foul trouble to score 25 points in 27 minutes, helping the Dallas Mavericks outlast the Minnesota Timberwolves in a 108-105 victory on Monday night.
Nowitzki picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter, and Brian Cardinal stepped in to score a season-high 12 points for the Mavericks in their 19th win in 21 games.
Kevin Love had 23 points and 17 rebounds for Minnesota. He posted his 51st double-double in a row, which is tied with Moses Malone in 1978-79 for the longest streak since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976.
Michael Beasley added 20 points and nine rebounds for the worst team in the Western Conference, who gave the powerful Mavericks all they could handle.
Sluggish for most of the night, the Mavericks missed their first 10 3-pointers. Nowitzki played just 14 minutes in the first three quarters, but used a 10-0 run bridging the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter to take control. Jason Terry’s two free throws gave them a 94-87 lead with 5:30 to play.
The young Wolves responded with an 8-0 run of their own and took a two-point lead with 2:15 to play before the veteran Mavericks finished them off. Terry hit a 3-pointer in transition and the Mavericks went 11 for 12 at the free-throw line down the stretch to hold off the Wolves.
Jason Kidd had 13 points and nine assists and Terry finished with 11 points for the Mavs, who made 12 of 35 3-pointers and missed Tyson Chandler for the third straight game because of a sprained right ankle.
The Mavericks, who pride themselves on the defense, came into Target Center still stinging after blowing an 18-point halftime lead at home against Memphis on Sunday. The Grizzlies scored 41 points in the third quarter and won the game on Zach Randolph’s fallaway 17-footer just before the buzzer.
Perhaps looking more at Minnesota’s record, and a little heavy-legged on the second night of a back-to-back, the Mavericks were sluggish throughout.
They trailed 30-22 after one quarter and Nowitzki spent much of the first three quarters saddled with foul trouble. He picked up his fourth foul just over two minutes into the third quarter, and the Wolves took advantage.
They outscored the Mavericks 15-0 toward the end of the third quarter to take an 80-70 lead.
Target Center, which has so often been whisper-quiet during another long, cold, miserable winter in Minnesota, was about as loud as it has gotten all season in the third quarter when Love extended his streak. He received a standing ovation and loud chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P!” as he shot free throws.
Wishful thinking, of course, but Love’s incredible consistency has been one of the few bright spots for the Wolves this season.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)