Dirk Nowitzki rebounded from his worst offensive outing of the season to lead the Mavs with 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting, hitting half of his eight 3-point attempts. Vince Carter provided offensive punch off the pine, scoring 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including 3-of-5 from long range.
But their minutes might have been the most meaningful numbers in their lines in the box score. The Mavs needed Nowitzki to play only 28 minutes. Carter played only 20.
That’s especially important with the Mavs flying home for their Saturday night rematch against the Pelicans, the finale of Dallas’ stretch of four games in five nights, which tend to be especially tough on the legs of 16-year veterans.
"It’s big for us," Carter said of the reduced minutes. "For us to come in and get the job done and kind of close it out early is something we haven’t been doing a great job of, so it’s great to see us do so, especially with four [games] in five [nights]."
The Mavs were able to cut the old guys’ minutes because they built a big lead and didn’t blow it, as Dallas has done too many times this season. Dallas' lead swelled to 23 points in the third quarter and never got lower than 14 points the rest of the game.
Nowitzki, who muttered about not putting the Los Angeles Lakers away early enough after the first game of this four-in-five stretch and stunk the next night, watched the final 8:34 from the bench while hoping he wouldn’t have to take off his warmups again.
"It was great that I didn’t have to go back in," said Nowitzki, who scored a season-low eight points on 3-of-14 shooting in Wednesday night’s loss to the Spurs. "Hopefully, I’ll have a little more in the tank tomorrow than I did in San Antonio."
Crowder answers call: Jae Crowder was the one Maverick who did play heavy minutes in the win over the Pelicans. In fact, Crowder played the most minutes of his NBA career.
Crowder’s 40 minutes were more than twice his norm. The Mavs relied on the second-year forward so much because Shawn Marion stayed in Dallas to nurse his bruised ribs and shoulder and Wayne Ellington was a late scratch due to an illness.
"I’m young," Crowder said of the heavy workload. "It doesn’t bother me right now. I’m good."
Crowder responded with his best offensive performance in several weeks, scoring 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting. He also defended three positions, spending significant time on Eric Gordon after the Pelicans shooting guard was scorching hot early.
"Jae played a solid game. He was asked to guard a lot of their good players. He hasn’t done great as a starter, but tonight was time for him to step up and be ready and give us the kind of game that he did. We really needed him."