Earl K. Sneed recaps the Mavericks' blowout win over the Timberwolves Wednesday night, after the team outworked the top rebounding squad in the league.
DALLAS -- The Mavericks have been looking for a dominant home win this season. Wednesday night they got it.
Facing a slumping Minnesota Timberwolves (4-14) squad at the American Airlines Center, the Mavericks (14-4) didn't take the night off. They didn't look ahead to Friday night's meeting with the streaking Utah Jazz. And they didn't let their winning streak come to an end.
With center Tyson Chandler outrebounding the top rebounder in the NBA, Kevin Love, and the Mavericks as a team collecting more boards than the Timberwolves, who also led the league in that department, Dallas' victorious stretch reached seven games after a runaway 100-86 victory.
"We've been trying to get a statement win at home," forward Shawn Marion explained. "It's time for us to really let people know that this is our home court and they can't come in here expecting to get a win."
In the process, the Mavs collected their head coach's 400th career victory.
"It's progress," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle added, "and we've got to continue it. I like this group a lot. We've been very business-like with our approach. Guys have taken nothing for granted. And they know how important it is to put opponents away when they have the opportunity."
Proving that they were ready to play from the opening tipoff, the Mavericks -- wearing red headbands and sneakers in support of World AIDS Day -- jumped out to a 29-20 lead at the end of the opening quarter of play behind a strong defense. The Mavs sprinted to the early advantage despite hitting just nine of 26 shots in the period. That's because the Dallas defense held Minnesota to just 7-of-18 from the floor at the other end.
With a dominant Brendan Haywood calling for the ball on the Mavs' second unit and finishing strong at the rim, it didn't take long for the team to up its lead to double figures in the early minutes of the second quarter.
"I think Haywood did a terrific job. He was really active on both boards. His length again was a big factor. He was running the floor, and he was around a lot of plays around the basket. That activity is really important to us," Carlisle said.
Then the versatile Marion joined in, leading the Mavericks to a 55-43 lead at the halftime break.
"We knew Minnesota was gonna come in and play hard," Marion explained. "They're a spunky, hard team and young. They come in and play hard and compete. But we had to make sure we made a statement early. You can't leave teams like that around or give them confidence when they come in here."
Led by Marion’s 11 points at the half to match Minnesota’s Wayne Ellington, the Mavs battled to the 12-point edge. And while both squads hit around 45 percent of their shots from the floor, the Mavericks’ 5-of-12 from behind the 3-point arc proved to be the difference in the first two quarters.
They would match that production from deep in the second half.
But the third quarter was kick-started with a DeShawn Stevenson steal and alley-oop feed to Chandler for a rim-rocking two-handed finish.
"I felt like I had a bad first half," Chandler said. "I didn't feel like I had brought enough energy. I committed some dumb fouls, and Coach [Carlisle] kind of got on me at halftime. So, I wanted to come out, bring some energy and be myself out there."
Then the Mavericks’ 3-point shots continued to find the bottom of the net, with Marion, Stevenson and Brian Cardinal raining in heaves from the outside. And behind Chandler’s 18 rebounds through three quarters, with a team-record 14 boards coming in the third period, the Mavericks went into the final 12 minutes of play with an 83-64 lead.
Chandler's third-quarter rebounding total eclipsed the old franchise mark of 12 shared by Popeye Jones and Lorenzo Williams.
With Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd resting comfortably on the sidelines, the Mavericks' reserves finished off the game, upping the lead to a much as 24. With Chandler also sitting out, he fell three rebounds short of Nowitzki's and Jones' franchise-record 17 rebounds in a half.
Marion's 16 points in a reserve role matched the Timberwolves' Michael Beasley for game-high honors. But he wasn't alone, as five Mavericks scored in double figures.
Also off the bench, J.J. Barea posted 14 points and Jason Terry added 12 points of his own, as the Dallas bench outscored the Minnesota reserves, 59-32. All 12 active Mavericks played and scored at least two points.
"Our bench, we've all been collectively helping each other as team. From top to bottom, everybody has been helping each other, encouraging each other and giving each other the confidence to go out there and play hard," Marion said with high praise for the full roster.
"Offensively, just spreading the ball around," Nowitzki added. "Everybody that came in the game tonight scored, so it was a great team effort."
Meanwhile, Nowitzki and Butler were the only two Mavericks from the starting five to score in double figures, recording 10 points apiece. Chandler finished a point shy of what would have been his fifth double-double of the season.
And despite a 40-22 disadvantage in points in the paint, the Mavericks finished with a 50-46 rebounding edge. That includes Chandler's personal duo with Love, which ended at 18-15 in Dallas' 7-foot-1 big man's favor.
"I took it on as a personal battle, him coming in here," Chandler said. "I love the way he's playing right now. And I knew for my team to have a good game I was gonna have to keep him off the boards and create some more opportunities for my team. So, it definitely gets you more excited when you've got a guy like him coming in."
The Dallas defense also held its second straight opponent under 40 percent shooting for the night, as the Mavericks' 41 percent bettered Minnesota's 39 percent at the other end.
"Back-to-back games keeping our opponents under 40 percent. That's the type of basketball that we want to play," Chandler said.
"Great all-around support and I think our defense was solid again," Nowitzki added.
Now the Mavericks prepare for a two-game road trip, which starts in Salt Lake City against the equally hot Jazz (15-5) Friday night. The trip wraps up with Saturday night's showdown against the Sacramento Kings.
But it's Friday night's meeting that will match the league's two hottest teams against each other, with both squads entering the game on seven-game winning streaks.
"Utah is always tough to play," Carlisle said while looking ahead. "We haven't won there since I've been here, and I don't think we've been close. So, it's always a difficult game. And again, the important thing is being really tied together and rebounding the ball.
"It's similar to tonight, only it's a more experienced team and a team that's one of the really tough teams to play at their place."
Note: The Mavericks look to end the Jazz's winning streak while extending their own Friday night in Salt Lake City, in a matchup that will tipoff at 9:30 p.m. CT. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest and nationally on ESPN.
The Mavs return to the American Airlines Center next Tuesday night to host the Golden State Warriors. That game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting the American Airlines Center box office, logging on to Mavs.com or by calling 214-747-MAVS (6287).
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