INDIANAPOLIS– The Dallas Mavericks earned few style points, but they still emerged with a win Wednesday night.
Fresh off a drubbing by the Charlotte Bobcats, the Mavericks bounced back Wednesday night to hand the Indiana Pacers their third loss in 28 home games, 81-73.
“We limited mistakes,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “We were able to make enough plays. We were able to get out of here alive.”
Neither team shined offensively at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana and Dallas each shot more than 10 percent below their season averages.
Dallas, now 14-14 in road contests, went 30 of 84 (35.7 percent) from the field, and Indiana connected on 27 of 84 (32.1 percent).
Guard Monta Ellis led the Mavericks (32-22) with 23 points on 7-of-18 shooting from the floor, 9-of-10 from the free-throw line. He also posted team highs with nine rebounds and six assists. All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki added 14 points, sinking half of his 14 field-goal attempts.
“The defenses tonight were unbelievable,” Nowitzki said. “We knew it was going to be a physical battle.
“Last night (in Charlotte), they got whatever they wanted, and Coach got on us pretty good this morning.”
The Pacers’ 73-point output was their lowest of the season.
Nowitzki played despite spraining his left ankle in Tuesday night’s game, and he showed few effects from the injury in his 34-plus minutes of action.
However, it was Brandan Wright’s 11 minutes that gave the Mavericks a boost, and more important, the lead.
With 5:19 to play in the fourth quarter, the 6-foot-10 forward took the pass from guard Shane Larkin and hit a jumper to put Dallas on top 68-66.
The Mavericks stretched the margin to eight points with 3:47 minutes to play after Nowitzki converted two free throws.
Wright, who tallied all of his seven points in the fourth, gave the Mavericks a lead earlier in the fourth by hitting the second of two free throws. He upped the lead to three on a dunk, with the assist going to guard Vince Carter.
Carlisle said it was strictly a coach’s decision to call on Wright late in the game.
The Pacers (40-12) clawed back from a seven-point, second quarter deficit to take a five-point lead in the third. They then tried to late re-enact that rally in the fourth, but to no avail.
Guard Lance Stephenson penetrated the Mavericks’ defense for a finger-roll layup with 2:06 to play to cut the lead to six. Indiana forward Paul George drained a 3-pointer following a Pacers timeout with 37.3 seconds to play, slicing the margin to 76-73.
The Mavericks sealed the game by shooting 5-for-6 from the free-throw line in the closing seconds, with Ellis going 4-for-4.
Indiana had five players finish in double figures, led by point guard George Hill, who scored 14 points. Stephenson and forward Danny Granger added 13 apiece. Stephenson also pulled down 10 rebounds for his 16th double-double of the season.
“They beat us at our game,” Hill said. “You have to tip your hat to them. They played well tonight, and we just didn’t play good enough.”
Dallas outscored Indiana 21-11 in the fourth quarter.
Three technical fouls were issued in the first half, two against the Pacers (Stephenson and forward David West), and one against the Mavericks (guard Jose Calderon).
“We knew we needed to be aggressive, we knew we needed to be physical,” Carter said. “We knew the kind of game we were walking into tonight.”
Each team will have five days off for the All-Star break. The Pacers play host to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, the same day Mavericks face the visiting Miami Heat.
NOTES: Mavericks G Devin Harris sat out due to a right knee/ankle injury. … Dallas averaged 44.8 points in the paint during its five-game winning streak, which was snapped Tuesday night against Charlotte. During the same span, the Mavericks allowed just 32.4. In the loss to the Bobcats, the Mavericks were outscored 60-42 in the paint. Dallas bounced back Wednesday to top Indiana 32-22 on inside points. … The Pacers allow an NBA-low 35.1 points per game in the paint. … The Pacers swept the 2012-13 season series with the Mavericks, 103-83 at home and 103-78 in Dallas. … Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle spent four seasons as the coach of the Pacers (2003-2007), leading them to the Eastern Conference finals in 2004. … Before Wednesday’s loss, the Pacers were 8-0 in the second game of a multi-game homestand.