Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle provided a spark, and his team played just as he hoped.
Monta Ellis had 23 points and nine rebounds, and Dirk Nowitzki added 18 points as the Mavericks handed the Indiana Pacers their third home loss of the season, 81-73 on Wednesday night.
“Coach got on us pretty good this morning,” Nowitzki said. “I thought we responded. We battled them and tried to make it tough on them.”
The Mavericks (32-22), who have won six of seven, finished a three-game road trip heading into the NBA All-Star break. Dallas’ five-game winning streak was snapped at Charlotte on Tuesday.
“It wasn’t that we didn’t respect Charlotte,” Carlisle said. “It’s that we had such great respect for Indiana. We knew we were going to have to play at a super high level.”
It wasn’t easy for either team.
Dallas won despite its second-lowest point total this season. The NBA’s seventh highest-scoring team netted only 80 points in a loss to New York on Jan. 5.
The Mavericks came out on top by holding the Pacers to a season-worst 32.1 percent shooting.
George Hill had 14 points, and Lance Stephenson and Danny Granger both scored 13 for the Pacers (40-12), who have lost two of three.
“They beat us at our game,” Hill said. “They played well tonight and we just didn’t play good enough. We gave one away. It’s unfortunate, but it’s over now.”
The Mavericks outscored the Pacers 21-11 in the final quarter and scored the first six points of the fourth. Dallas took a 66-62 lead when Ellis made a free throw with 6:55 remaining.
Brandan Wright scored, Ellis made two more free throws, and Wright made a layup to give the Mavericks a 72-66 edge.
Ellis made a 3-pointer early in the second half to give the Mavericks a 46-42 lead. West hit a jumper, Samuel Dalembert also scored, and Hill sank a 3-pointer to make it 48-47.
Paul George scored to give the Pacers their first lead of the second half, 53-52, with 6:12 left in the quarter.
Indiana built its edge to 60-55, but Dallas scored five straight to tie it with 2:20 remaining in the third.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel reminded his team leading up to Wednesday’s game that the All-Star break didn’t begin until after Indiana’s meeting with Dallas.
“I wanted to make that clear to all of our guys,” Vogel said. “We’ve got work to do. We want to go into the break ahead 3 1/2 games.”
The Mavericks spoiled that for the Pacers.
Indiana outshot the Mavericks in the fourth quarter, but Dallas pulled away by making 13 of 16 from the free throw line.
Hill scored late to make it 74-68, but Ellis made a pair of free throws. Stephenson scored on a lay-up, and George grabbed a steal and later hit a 3-pointer to make it 76-73 with 37 seconds remaining. Ellis scored four straight points from the line to give the Mavericks an 80-73 advantage.
“We were able to make just enough plays,” Carlisle said. “It was just a very competitive game from start to finish. There was a lot of attitude in the game, which is great. We were able to get out of here alive.”
The Mavericks are already looking past the break, and things won’t be any easier then. Dallas will hosts the Miami Heat in the first game after All-Star weekend.
• Indiana had 10 offensive rebounds and scored a season-low four second-chance points.
• The last time the Mavericks won in Indianapolis was November 2009.
• Mavericks guard Gal Mekel was out after having right knee surgery.
• Dallas guard Devin Harris didn’t play because of knee and ankle injuries.
• The Pacers committed 20 turnovers and fell to 5-4 when they have at least 20.