The Dallas Mavericks didn’t get off to the fast start that they wanted in the first quarter Saturday night, but they sure made up for it in the third.
Playing one of the best defensive quarters in franchise history, the Mavs outscored the Denver Nuggets 25-5 in the third period en route to a 92-81 triumph before a sellout crowd of 20,339 at American Airlines Center.
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Mavs (10-7) heading into a two-game road trip that begins Monday night at Sacramento. The Nuggets (6-11) have dropped six straight.
Denver led 52-48 at halftime, but Dallas threw up some serious body punches in the third quarter — holding the Nuggets to five points, forcing nine turnovers and limiting Denver to just 2-of-19 shooting from the field.
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It was the fewest points allowed by the Mavs in any quarter in franchise history, eclipsing the seven points scored by the Los Angeles Lakers in the third quarter against the Mavs on Jan. 16, 2012.
The Mavs also recorded a season-high 13 steals and held Denver to 29 second-half points — the lowest for any Dallas opponent this year.
“Our guys did great in the third, and we were able to finish it,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “When you consider Denver played [Friday] night [at home in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs] and had a tough back-to-back, teams can really struggle if you do a good job on both ends.”
The Mavs scored the first 16 points of the third quarter and soared to a 64-52 lead. The Nuggets finally scored their first points of the second half on a fast-break layup by Kenneth Faried at the 3:05 mark.
Our guys did great in the third, and we were able to finish it.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle
Before that basket, the Nuggets were 0 for 15 from the field with six turnovers in the quarter. It was a beautiful defensive performance by the Mavs.
“We had to grind,” Carlisle said. “The game was too free and easy. They had too many open looks. We needed to tighten up and execute our offense.”
Deron Williams helped jump-start the offense by pouring in a game-high 22 points, and Zaza Pachulia picked up his 10th double-double of the season with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Dirk Nowitzki added 13 points and seven rebounds, and Raymond Felton had 12 points for Dallas.
The Mavs recorded a season-high 13 steals and held Denver to 29 second-half points — the lowest for any Dallas opponent this year.
“This is big for us, especially to win at home, understanding we’ve been traveling a lot,” said Felton, who was 5-of-10 shooting. “That’s how the schedule is; that’s how it goes sometimes.
“So to get this win at home is really big for us behind those three losses on the road.”
The Mavs shot 42.9 percent from the field and limited the Nuggets to 40 percent shooting. They also turned 22 Denver turnovers into 19 points.
While the Mavs turned up the heat on defense, Williams ignited the offense.
“He’s got a real good feel for our team,” Carlisle said. “In the first half — in the second quarter — he was really the only guy who had anything going there for a while, and he made some really good things happen.
10 Double-doubles this season for Mavericks center Zaza Pachulia, who recorded16 points and 12 rebounds Saturday.
“We need to have a balance, but it’s great to have that guy that can go get you a shot, that can go make a play and get to the rim and get to the free-throw line. He’s been doing a great job and he’s getting better game by game.”
Mavericks at Kings
9 p.m. Monday, FSSW