Everything went well for the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night at the American Airlines Center.
Dirk Nowitzki remained in a groove, scoring a team-high 23 points and grabbing eight rebounds to pace the Mavs to a 124-107 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers as Dallas completed its homestand with an impressive 3-1 record.
Coupled with Oklahoma City’s 86-77 win over Memphis on Monday, the Mavs (28-21) also moved ahead of the Grizzles (26-21) and back into eighth place in the Western Conference.
That sets up a torrid showdown Wednesday night in Memphis between the Mavs and Grizzlies.
The Mavs used a balanced attack to knock off the Cavs, who dropped to 16-32 on the season while losing their fifth straight game.
Monta Ellis scored 22 and handed out seven assists, Samuel Dalembert contributed 18 points, eight rebounds and two blocks, Devin Harris tallied 16 points, Brandan Wright had 14 points and seven rebounds, and Jose Calderon added 11 points and 10 assists.
The way the Mavs spread the wealth was extremely beneficial, especially because they had to play their second straight game without Shawn Marion, who is suffering from contusions he sustained to his right shoulder and upper ribs Jan. 7 against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Coach Rick Carlisle noted the solid play of Dalembert, who powered his way to seven baskets in eight attempts and also collected four offensive rebounds.
“He can take us to a higher level and tonight he did,” Carlisle said. “Down the stretch his presence at both ends kept alive two or three balls — those are possessions, those are ones we get they don’t get.
“Our guys have really been encouraging him, they’ve stayed very positive with him, and he’s a good guy. We just got to keep reinforcing the things that we need him to do.”
The Mavs held only a 59-52 lead at the half, but with a spark from Harris they were able to carry a 94-79 lead into the fourth period.
“I thought we did a lot of good things,” Carlisle said. “There’s going to be some mistakes in any game.
“The good thing was the first half we had the eight turnovers, the second half we only had five and that was big. And then being able to sit Dirk for the last seven minutes, that’s a big deal.”
Jae Crowder started in place of Marion, but quickly picked up two fouls and gave way to Wayne Ellington, who has played sparingly this season. Ellington, however, played some heady ball and earned praise from Carlisle.
“I thought Ellington did a really good job tonight,” Carlisle said. “He doesn’t have gaudy stats, but he came in the game when Crowder got two fouls and immediately got two rebounds.
“He was active and playing hard defensively, and he just brought us some positive energy. He made an impact and right now with Marion out, we’re scrambling around with different lineups and there’s a lot of different stuff out there. But it’s all about finding a way to make it work and our guys did tonight.”
Kyrie Irving led the Cavs with a game-high 27 points, and Luol Deng added 18 points and eight boards.
Meanwhile, the Mavs went about this game in a business-like manner, knowing what lies ahead Wednesday in Memphis. And they’ll go to Memphis knowing they’ll need another big game from Dalembert.
Carlisle said: “He’s big headed into the next game because they’ve got a lot of big strong guys in there.”