Nowitzki scores 23 of his 34 in second half

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Dirk Nowitzki made half of his shots Tuesday
night, and it seemed like the other half landed in the hands of his
hustling teammates.

Nowitzki scored 34 points, including 23 in the second half, and
Dallas had a season-high 24 offensive rebounds in a 97-87 victory
over Minnesota that snapped the Timberwolves' five-game winning

"We knew we had to step it up defensively and the biggest key
was our rebounding," said Nowitzki, who was 13-for-26 from the

"I wish I could sugarcoat it, but we got pummeled tonight,"
Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said.

Josh Howard had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Mavericks, who
overcame the early ejection of coach Don Nelson and outrebounded
Minnesota 54-35 to win for the third time in four games.

"The guys were aggressive, that's pretty much the answer,"
Howard said. "Every guy stayed with it the whole game."

Nelson wasn't around to see it, but his players outworked
Minnesota for nearly every loose ball. Nelson was ejected by
referee Joey Crawford just 93 seconds into the game.

He got his first technical for questioning an offensive foul on
Darrell Armstrong and immediately yelled back at Crawford, who
quickly added the second technical. Afterward, Nelson admitted to
his transgression.

"Oh, I cursed him," he said.

Kevin Garnett had 32 points, 12 rebounds and five assists for
Minnesota, which was playing without starter Latrell Sprewell.
Sprewell was suspended for one game by the NBA for yelling a sexual
vulgarity at a fan in Los Angeles on Saturday night.

"Spree's like the life of this team, he's that surge, that
energy," Garnett said. "We missed all that tonight."

Wally Szczerbiak had 18 points and Eddie Griffin 14 for the
Wolves, but Sam Cassell was held scoreless in the second half.

The Mavericks led 71-64 after three quarters, and the Wolves
could not get closer than five points the rest of the way. When
Nowitzki converted a three-point play with 5:06 left, Dallas had
its biggest lead of the game, 88-75.

"I wasn't missing a lot in warmups and that gave me
confidence," said Nowitzki, who entered the game as the NBA's
leading scorer. "I had a good feeling about the whole game."

Garnett scored the first four points of the second half to make
it 50-50 before the Mavericks answered with a 17-7 run. Nowitzki
had 10 points, and when converted a dunk into a three-point play
with 3:03 left, Dallas had its first double-digit lead, 67-57.

Minnesota cut the deficit, but still trailed 71-64 heading into
the fourth.

The scored was tied 28-all when the Mavericks started the second
quarter with a 16-7 run. With 4:34 left in the half, Dallas led
44-35 and held a 31-11 rebounding advantage.

Szczerbiak scored nine of the next 11 points for Minnesota,
which trailed 50-46 at halftime.

The Mavericks improved to 9-0 when Nowitzki scores at least 30

Game notes
The 54 rebounds and 24 offensive rebounds by Dallas, were
both highs against Minnesota this season. ... Crawford gave Wolves
coach Flip Saunders a technical for arguing with 9:19 left in the
second quarter. ... Nowitzki missed the Nov. 22 game with a
sprained left ankle when the Timberwolves won 83-82. ... Dallas
evened the all-time series 34-34.