Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 3)

Series starts 12/18

Game 1: Sunday, December 18th
Game 2: Wednesday, January 4th
Game 3: Saturday, January 7th

Timberwolves 95

(12-10, 5-6 away)

Mavericks 102

(18-6, 10-3 home)

    Coverage: KSTC

    7:30 PM ET, December 18, 2005

    American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    MIN 16 18 32 2995
    DAL 18 25 24 35102

    Top Performers

    Minnesota: K. Garnett 20 Pts, 16 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

    Dallas: J. Howard 23 Pts, 7 Reb, 4 Ast, 2 Stl

    Mavs win eighth game in nine, close gap on Spurs in West

    DALLAS (AP) -- With the Minnesota Timberwolves sending most of their players after offensive rebounds, the Dallas Mavericks decided to send most of their guys the other direction.

    It worked -- for Dallas, that is -- as Devin Harris and Josh Howard led a series of fast breaks early in the fourth quarter that sent the Mavericks rolling past the Timberwolves 102-95 on Sunday night for their eighth win in nine games.

    Coach Avery Johnson is trying to change Dallas' identity from a scoring machine to a team that wins with defense. In practice Saturday, he stressed how defensive stands can turn into easy baskets. Once he saw the mismatch in strategies at the start of the fourth quarter, he reminded his players of what to do and they responded nicely.

    "We just went out there and did what he wanted," said Howard, who scored seven of his 23 points in the final period.

    Harris had three of his six assists in the fourth quarter, including a handoff to Adrian Griffin for the layup that put the Mavs ahead for good. Harris also scored seven of his 14 points in the fourth, making all three of his shots to help Dallas go 11-of-16 for the quarter.

    "Devin makes a lot of things happen for us," Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki said. "He's a great finisher. He's going to be our point guard of the future. I like the way he's progressing."

    Nowitzki had 19 points, seven rebounds and a season-high four blocks as Dallas capped a long homestand by going 4-1, all against teams they were expected to beat. The Mavericks are a game behind division rival San Antonio for the best record in the Western Conference.

    The Timberwolves got 28 points from Wally Szczerbiak and Kevin Garnett added 20 points, 16 rebounds and five assists, but Minnesota still extended its longest losing streak of the season to four.

    The previous three losses were by a combined five points and this looked like it would be another tight one when the Timberwolves scored 32 points in the third quarter and tied it at 70 early in the fourth. The rally must have sapped them, though, as Dallas answered with an 11-3 run, then an 8-0 burst after Minnesota again got within four.

    Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey was mainly disappointed with the way his team started -- missing its first four shots and shooting 6-of-19 in the first quarter. The Wolves scored only 16 points in the first quarter and 18 in the second to trail by nine at halftime.

    "I thought Dallas took us to the woodshed, especially in the first half," Casey said. "We didn't come out like we were on a three-game skid."

    Minnesota heads home for its next four games, starting Wednesday.

    This was the first of three games in 21 days featuring versatile big men Nowitzki and Garnett.

    They weren't matched up too often, but there was one memorable sequence in the second quarter. Nowitzki, fresh off a big defensive stand, was wide open for a 3-pointer on the left wing. Garnett raced at him, but Nowitzki got it off in time and managed to draw a foul. Nowitzki backed away pumping his fist after swishing the 3, then made the free throw for a rare four-point play.

    Dallas limited Garnett to 13 shots, only three in the fourth quarter.

    "We have to have more distribution from other guys stepping up," Casey said.

    The game started horribly, with the teams combining to miss their first nine shots. The ninth was an airball by Minnesota's Michael Olowokandi on a possession that began with Casey screaming, "Calm down."

    Szczerbiak came through with the first field goal, 2:37 into the game. It wasn't much better in the second quarter, with the Mavs starting 2-of-7 and the Wolves going 1-of-7.

    Minnesota shot 35 percent for the first half. The only consolation for the Timberwolves was that their 32 points at halftime topped the 29 they had the previous game.

    "Horrible is the only word I have for it," Szczerbiak said. "We have to come out aggressive and set the tone."

    Game notes

    Dallas took a 36-35 lead in the all-time series. ... Mavericks G Darrell Armstrong, an avid Washington Redskins fan, had some fun with the crowd in a pregame address. After wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season, he added, "How 'bout them Redskins!" Considering the Redskins had just beaten the Dallas Cowboys 35-7, there was a loud mixture of laughs and boos, even from German import Nowitzki. Johnson and Mavs owner Mark Cuban said Armstrong was fined $1,000 for the stunt. ... Minnesota G Richie Frahm (ankle) missed his third straight game. ... Dallas G Marquis Daniels (strained neck) missed his second straight game.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 95 102
    FGM-FGA 38-89 (.427) 37-74 (.500)
    3PM-3PA 4-14 (.286) 5-11 (.455)
    FTM-FTA 15-22 (.682) 23-27 (.852)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 16-46 5-38
    Assists 17 17
    Turnovers 13 13
    Steals 7 5
    Blocks 3 6
    Fast Break Points 16 27
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 28 (0/0) 21 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 4 12

    Top Performers

    Kevin Garnett Garnett
    Points: 20
    Reb: 16
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 1
    Josh Howard Howard
    Points: 23
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0