- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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If this keeps up, some of the Dallas Mavericks players will shave their beards off sooner rather than later.
On Saturday night, the Mavs beat up the Golden State Warriors, 116-91, at the American Airlines Center. This week, several of the Mavericks players, including Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter, pledged to not shave until the team reaches .500.
The Mavericks (22-28) are moving in the right direction here, having won three of their last four games while the Warriors (30-21), in the midst of a four-games-in-five-days stretch, have lost their last four games.
Of course, a late third-quarter run that carried into the fourth quarter cut into the Mavericks lead. Stephen Curry's 3-pointer cut the deficit to 85-72 in the fourth quarter. But the Mavericks wouldn't let the lead slip into single digits.
Shawn Marion scored a season-high 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the victory. O.J. Mayo added 19 points, Darren Collison chipped in 18 points and Elton Brand, off the bench, grabbed 11 rebounds to go with 11 points.
What it means: This was an important victory for the Mavericks because four of their next seven opponents have losing records and this team has to take advantage of these teams if they're going to make a run at a playoff berth -- or cut off those beards. Beating a tired Warriors team in dominating fashion is expected for a Mavs team that was rested while the Warriors played as if they were disinterested from the opening tip. It's not the Mavs' fault the Warriors were flat for most of the night, because when that happens, you must win those games, especially at home.
A first half to remember: Dallas built its largest lead to 27 points when Mayo nailed a 3-pointer for a 61-34 lead. When the half was over, the Mavs were leading 62-36 and the Warriors had scored a season low in points for a half. The previous low was 38, twice, most recently on Jan. 16 against Miami. The Mavericks shot 51.2 percent from the floor in the first half. Collison led the way with 13 points in 17 minutes. Marion added 11 points and seven rebounds. Nowitzki missed his first eight shots but still finished with 15 points.
Marion's strong night: After Marion talked about not wanting to be traded to a bad team, he put forth one of his best efforts of the season. He scored a season-high 26 points in 30 minutes on 11-of-16 shooting before coming out with 4:46 to play in the fourth quarter. Marion has played well of late, averaging 18.8 points per game the last five games, and has become someone the Mavs need to hold on to at the trade deadline.
Play of the night: Mayo saved a loose ball at the scorer's table and tossed the ball over his back to Marion, who caught the ball at midcourt and scored on an uncontested layup to give Dallas a 105-81 lead with about seven and half minutes left.
Nowitzki reaches Wilt: Nowitzki's eight made free throws moved him past Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain (6,057) into 15th place all-time in free throws made in NBA history with 6,058. Next for Nowitzki is Bob Pettit, who is 14th with 6,182. Among active players, Nowitzki is third in free throws made behind Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce.
Who's next?: The Atlanta Hawks (27-22) visit the AAC for the first time this season on Monday night. The Hawks have lost three of their last four games.