MINNEAPOLIS -- Not that he needed validation, but Dirk Nowitzki put his stamp on why he was deserving to make the NBA All-Star Game for the 11th consecutive season.
Nowitzki drilled jumpers from all angles of the Target Center on Friday night as he poured in a season-high 33 points to pace the Dallas Mavericks to a 104-97 triumph over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Coupled with the return of point guard Jason Kidd, the Mavs went to battle with a full roster for one of the few times this season. The result was a road win against a team that had been 2-0 against them this season.
Nowitzki converted 11 of 19 shots and has scored 112 points over the past four games.
"It started early," said Nowitzki, who also had three assists and three blocks. "I had some good looks at the 3's.
"They had some matchup problems with Vince [Carter], and that's all we were running at the beginning, posting Vince on [Luke] Ridnour. Then they went to zone pretty good and I had some good looks and was able to knock a few 3's in.
"Usually when you make the first couple of shots that go up, I just kept shooting all night."
While Nowitzki was the ringleader who delivered the most damage for the Mavericks, Kidd was the inspirational leader. Back for the first time since missing six games with a strained right calf, Kidd played 27 minutes, scored eight points, picked up five rebounds, handed out 10 assists and recorded a pair of steals.
"Maybe my wind isn't as strong," Kidd said. "But basically I feel good."
It wasn't all totally good for Kidd, who also had eight of the Mavs' 18 turnovers. However, he had a good explanation.
"The NBA was giving away balls tonight," he said. "To the fans -- appreciation night."
Some of Kidd's passes were hitting teammates in the head, or were just flying into the stands as teammates didn't cut where he thought they were going to cut.
"They haven't seen me nor have I seen them, and so it'll take a game," Kidd said. "So we got that out of the way."
The Mavericks (16-11) controlled the game the majority of the night, leading by as many as 17 points. A 13-1 Mavs run -- with nine of the points coming from Nowitzki -- increased Dallas' lead to 71-54 with 5:50 remaining in the third quarter.
Behind Kevin Love -- who finished with 32 points and 12 rebounds -- the Timberwolves chipped away and got as close as 78-75 early in the fourth quarter. But Kidd drilled a 3-pointer, Jason Terry scored six consecutive points, and Kidd fed Nowitzki for a dunk and an 89-77 Mavs lead.
"He got us off to a great start," coach Rick Carlisle said of Kidd. "He came right back into the game and hit a clutch 3, which was a huge shot, and he got us going.
"It's great to have him back, and this is an important win for us."
Kidd made just 2 of 4 shots, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range. But as always, he had a knack for making the clutch basket at key moments of the game.
"I got going in the fourth quarter on my bike ride from St. Paul," Kidd joked. "But I came in and [Terry] found me for a 3, so whatever I can do to help my team."
With Nowitzki making back-to-back 3-point field goals, the Mavericks maneuvered for a 20-6 lead seven minutes into the game. It helped that their stifling defense, which came up with a season-high 16 steals, forced Minnesota into a season-high 28 turnovers.
Meanwhile, Nowitzki put to rest any comments by critics who cried foul when he was named Thursday to the All-Star team. On this night, it was vintage Nowitzki, who was voted to the All-Star team by the Western Conference coaches.
"I was a little surprised that I made [the All-Star team]," Nowitzki said. "But I think we all know if I would have been healthy all season I think I would have been a lock.
"I had some injury problems and I wasn't playing my best, but I guess it's good for me to know that the coaches still respect me and respect what I bring to the game, even though I wasn't 100 percent. They respect what I did last summer, so I'm thankful for the coaches."
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760