The Dallas Mavericks made a good living down in the paint Saturday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
So much so that the 76 points the Mavs scored in the paint tied a franchise record for the most points scored in that area, which was set in a 2002 game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Those paint points also set the table for the Mavs’ ragged 131-117 triumph over the Timberwolves at American Airlines Center.
With eight players in double digits, the Mavs tallied a season high in points and finished this homestand with an impressive 3-1 record. In improving to 7-3 on the season, the Mavs kept attacking the basket relentlessly until the Wolves basically threw in the towel and went with a mostly guard lineup.
“They don’t have a lot of rim protection out there, and we were driving it hard,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “The thing we kept doing well was attacking them, so we were able to outscore them.
“It turned into a rat game, which is what they wanted to do when they got behind. They did a pretty good job of it, but we got the win so we’ll take it.”
Monta Ellis led the scoring parade for the Mavs with 30 points on 11-of-21 shooting. Ellis tallied 17 of the 38 points the Mavs put up in the third quarter on a variety of shots from all angles.
“I’m just picking my spots,’’ Ellis said. “I’m just playing in the flow of the game of the team.
“Once we get the ball moving and the ball in my hands, coach wants me to come off the screen-and-roll and make plays for others. So I just read the defense.’’
On the flip side, the Mavs didn’t put up much resistance on defense. After leading 63-44 at the half, Dallas coasted and allowed the Timberwolves (2-7) to score a whopping 73 points in the second half.
In all, the 117 points are the most the Mavs have allowed in a game this season.
“We were doing some pretty good things in the first half,’’ Carlisle said. “In the second half they had four or five guards in there the whole time and they were just putting their heads down and driving it.
“It’s harder to get stops in that kind of situation, but we gave up too much. It’s a good win regardless, so we’ve got to take it and run. But we’ve got to do better than giving up 73 points in the second half.’’
Besides Ellis, Tyson Chandler collected his fifth double-double over the past seven games after finishing with 12 points and 16 rebounds to go with three blocked shots. Dirk Nowitzki tallied 15 points on 6-of-9 shots and played only 23 minutes.
The Mavs got 57 points on 24-of-39 shooting from the bench, led by J.J. Barea (14 points, five assists) and Brandan Wright (13 points, five rebounds). Al-Farouq Aminu and Richardson each scored 10 off the bench, while Chandler Parsons totaled 12 points, five rebounds and five assists from his starting small forward spot.
With the offense flowing freely, the Mavs mounted an 83-57 lead with 6:54 remaining in the third period following a pair of free throws by Nowitzki. But Nowitzki left the game for good at the six-minute mark of the third quarter with the Mavs nursing an 83-61 lead that never got threatened the rest of the way.
Nowitzki was able to marvel at the exploits of Ellis, who kept picking apart the Timberwolves’ defense and scoring at will.
“He was in a great groove,’’ Nowitzki said. “He’s so quick to the basket and laid it in.
“That’s when he’s at his best, attacking and getting in the lane and making stuff happen.’’
With the homestand out of the way, the Mavs hit the road for two games — Monday at Charlotte and Wednesday at Washington. And they’re grateful the way the homestand ended after it opened with a loss to Miami and a win over Sacramento, when Dallas trailed by 24 points.
Nowitzki said: “We started off rough with the loss against Miami, but we took care of business after that and protect our home court before we hit the road again for some tough games.’’