DALLAS (AP) — Darren Collison now runs the floor where J.J. Barea was the spark that helped rally the Dallas Mavericks to their first championship two seasons ago.
Dallas’ new point guard made sure one of his predecessors didn’t finish off another comeback Monday night.
Collison led six players in double figures with 23 points and the Mavericks matched their season high with a third straight win, holding off a pair of Barea-engineered surges in a 113-98 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“I felt like we were going to attack,” said Collison, who also had nine assists and three steals.
That used to be Barea’s job coming off the bench in Dallas, until he became a starter midway through the 2011 NBA finals on Dallas’ home court and helped erase a 2-1 series deficit against Miami.
He was finally back on that floor after sitting out Minnesota’s first two trips with injuries since signing as a free agent when Mavericks owner Mark Cuban decided not to bring back several key pieces of the title team.
The diminutive guard is a reserve again, and he had former teammate Dirk Nowitzki and others chasing him all over the court while running the pick-and-roll and scoring 11 second-quarter points. He led the Timberwolves with 21 and was on the floor for a second-half rally that cut a 23-point deficit to eight.
“I have a lot of good history here,” said Barea, who made 4 of 7 from 3-point range and added five assists. “I hit a couple of shots early so I just kept being aggressive the whole game. I always try to bring a lot of energy off the bench and help my team as much as I can.”
The Timberwolves, who finished a 0-4 road trip that coach Rick Adelman missed for personal reasons, got 20 points and a game-high 12 rebounds from Nikola Pekovic.
“It was a tough trip,” Barea said. “I tell them to remember how this feels. We have to get better at home.”
O.J. Mayo and Elton Brand had 20 points each for Dallas. It was a season high for Brand. Mayo matched Collison’s nine assists, and the Maverick had a season-high 33 as a team. Nowitzki, Chris Kaman and Vince Carter had 10 points apiece.
Minnesota trailed by nine in the third quarter when Dallas guard Jae Crowder beat the shot clock with a 3-pointer moments before Ricky Rubio was called for a technical foul from the bench. Less than a minute later, Alexey Shved was called for kicking out his leg when he made a 3-pointer, negating the shot. Shawn Marion scored on other end, and Mayo followed with a 3-pointer to put the Mavericks ahead 83-67 late in the third quarter.
The Dallas run eventually reached 19-5 for a 91-68 lead before the Timberwolves rallied. They thought they were within seven after Barea hit a 3-pointer with 3:16 left and the Mavericks called time out. During the break, the deficit grew to eight at 101-93 after officials reviewed an earlier 3-pointer by Rubio and made it a 2 instead.
Collison hit a 3-pointer to push the lead back to 11 and keep Minnesota from getting any closer.
Rubio’s wiped out 3-pointer would have been his first of the year from long range. He was 2 of 3 from the field after hitting just six of his first 33 shots since returning from last season’s knee injury. He also missed four games with back spasms.
“It’s hard when you feel you are not 100 percent yet and you want to be,” said Rubio, who led Minnesota with six assists. “Your mind is doing it, but your legs are not.”
After helping Dallas win the title, Barea didn’t play in his first trip to Dallas last season but did get a championship ring in Minnesota’s only visit. He sat out a game earlier this season with a sprained foot.
Coming off the bench late in the first quarter, Barea had two quick assists then scored eight of Minnesota’s first 10 points in the second. Barea hit three 3-pointers and a driving layup and led the Timberwolves with 11 points and four assists before halftime.
Barea, who had about 15 family members and friends in the crowd, helped Minnesota cut an 11-point deficit to 40-38 before Carter converted a three-point play to start a 15-5 run that put the Mavericks up 55-43 late in the second quarter. Brand had eight points during the run and led Dallas with 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the first half.
NOTES: Interim Minnesota coach Terry Porter said there was nothing new on the status of Adelman, who has been out since the last home game, Jan. 8 against Atlanta, attending to his wife, who was hospitalized. Minnesota plays at home Thursday against the Clippers. … The Mavericks matched a season low for the second straight game with nine turnovers. They have 13 or fewer in six straight games in a season notable for turnovers being a persistent problem. … The Timberwolves were 4 of 16 from 3-point range Sunday against San Antonio, dropping them to 29.7 percent for the season heading into Monday night. In the past 10 NBA seasons, only one team has finished below 30 percent from long range.
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