- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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How it happened: Dirk Nowitzki's efficient dominance and Jason Kidd’s steady hand -- two ingredients so key to the Mavs' championship run that had been missing much of this season -- were too much for the talented young Timberwolves to overcome.
Nowitzki kept his recent groove going with 33 points on 11-of-19 shooting. The 11-time All-Star has averaged 28 points on 61.4 percent shooting in the past four games.
Kidd made a triumphant return after missing six games due to a strained right calf with an eight-point, 10-assist, five-rebound, two-steal performance. It wasn’t perfect, as evidenced by Kidd’s eight turnovers, but he played a critical role in putting the game away.
The Timberwolves, who got a 32-point, 12-rebound performance from All-Star power forward Kevin Love, closed the third quarter with a 17-5 run while Kidd rested. Minnesota had trimmed the Mavs’ lead from 17 to three when Kidd got off the bench early in the fourth quarter.
On the next possession, Kidd made his first field goal of the game, knocking down a 3-pointer. That sparked an 11-2 run for the Mavs, crushing Minnesota’s comeback hopes.
What it means: The Mavs avoided being swept by the Timberwolves, a team that had lost 18 of 19 to Dallas entering the season, and pulled even with the Rockets for fourth place in the Western Conference at 16-11. The Mavs bounced back from a three-game losing streak by winning both games on this road trip.
Play of the game: Nowitzki pump-faked at the top of the 3-point arc, put the ball on the floor past a leaping Love and pulled up after a dribble, deciding at the last split-second to throw an alley-oop to Brandan Wright. The result was an uncontested two-hand finish for Wright, who flashed down the baseline and soared high above the rim.
Stat of the night: Nowitzki knocked down a season-high four of seven 3-point attempts. He had been 12-of-57 behind the arc this season.
2hMatt Walks, ESPN.com
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14dMatt Walks, ESPN.com
24dMatt Walks, ESPN.com