- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Mavericks escaped Cleveland with a 102-97 win Monday afternoon.
How it happened: The Mavs almost blew their biggest lead yet this season, having to sweat down the stretch despite being up by as many as 24 points.
Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving got the Cavs back in the game during the third quarter, when he scored 16 of his game-high 26 points. The Cavs went on a 16-2 run in the fourth quarter and got as close as two points with 3:23 remaining.
But the Cavs never could get all the way over the hump.
Mavs guard Monta Ellis scored nine of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter, but he missed a pair of free throws with 2.8 seconds remaining to leave the door cracked open for the Cavs. The Mavs’ victory wasn’t secured until Cleveland was called for a five-second violation with Brandan Wright harassing inbounds passer Jarrett Jack and Ellis made two free throws with 1.1 seconds remaining.
Dallas, which lost center Samuel Dalembert due to a strained left shoulder early in the third quarter, survived despite being dominated physically in the fourth quarter. Cleveland outscored the Mavs by a 31-23 margin and had a 22-7 rebounding edge in the final frame.
What it means: The Mavs sit alone in seventh place of the Western Conference again, a half-game ahead of the Phoenix Suns with a 25-18 record. Dallas is 11-11 on the road after beating the Cavs, who fell to 15-26 overall.
Play of the day: After catching an outlet pass near midcourt, Shane Larkin took one dribble and lofted a lob pass to Wright, who soared over Irving to finish with a ferocious two-hand slam. That highlight-reel fast break occurred right after the Cavs had cut the Mavs’ lead to 10 in the third quarter.
Stat of the night: The Mavs had a 33-8 advantage in bench scoring. Cleveland entered the game ranked fourth in the NBA in reserve scoring with 38 points per game.