Balanced effort, hot shooting lead Mavs by Timberwolves

01/14/2013 11:12 PM

01/14/2013 11:36 PM

DALLAS -- As they continue the journey toward getting back to respectability and back in the torrid playoff race, the Dallas Mavericks are at least halfway toward reaching one of their mini-goals.

Before starting the current string of home games on Saturday with a win over the Memphis Grizzlies, the Mavs wanted to make a bold statement by sweeping all four games of the homestand. With Monday's 113-98 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at American Airlines Center, the Mavs are hopeful that this win will put them on the path to something big.

Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo and Elton Brand combined for 63 points as the Mavs won their third straight game and increased their record to 16-23, tying them with the Los Angels Lakers and Timberwolves for 10th place in win total in the Western Conference.

It was yet another solid performance by the Mavs, who now have won three games in a row for just the third time this season.

It also was just the second time this year the Mavs have tallied at least 100 points in three consecutive games since Nov. 3-7.

The Mavs shot a sizzling 59.7 percent from the field, dispensed a season-high 33 assists and committed just 10 turnovers as they beat a Minnesota squad that won the first two games of the season series.

"I thought the key to the game was our tempo was good; we kept the ball moving," coach Rick Carlisle said. "Collison played a terrific game. He had a lot of assists, too. He was the guy that really was the key guy keeping the pressure on them from a tempo standpoint."

Collison led the Mavs with 23 points, nine assists and three steals while directing a solid game.

Mayo added 20 points, seven rebounds and nine assists, and Brand added 20 points and six boards while converting 10 of 13 shots in just 30 minutes.

Brand had 14 of his points in the first half of the game, which the Mavs led 55-45 at halftime. Carlisle talked about how the 14-year veteran has had to adjust his game this season.

"It certainly has been challenging for him, too, because he started most of his career and we have him coming off the bench just because we felt it was the best thing for our overall team," Carlisle said. "But it made it a tougher challenge for him. But now he seems to be getting into a groove as a guy off the bench."

For his part, Brand just wants to win. And it was his jumper, followed by a bucket by Collison, a fast-break layup from Mayo and a fast-break dunk from Jae Crowder, that widened the Mavs' lead to 91-68 late in the third period.

"We were spreading the ball around and getting assists tonight," Brand said. "It was just one of those nights."

With the help of former Mavs guard J.J. Barea, the Timberwolves chopped the Mavs' lead to 101-93 with 3:16 remaining in the game. But Collison buried a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws to send Minnesota home with a four-game losing streak.

"We're playing with more familiarity with one another, with more familiarity with our system," Carlisle said. "Our reads are better. We've been doing some good things in that area. The challenge will be to continue it."

Dallas next plays Houston on Wednesday followed by the homestand's finale Friday against Oklahoma City.

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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