DALLAS — All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki scored 23 points, leading the Dallas Mavericks to a routine 124-107 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night at American Airlines Center.
Nowitzki failed to score at least 30 for the third consecutive game, but it mattered little as Dallas had the game well in hand. Guard Monta Ellis finished with 22 points after scoring a combined 33 in the previous three games.
Four other Mavericks scored in double figures, including two reserves, guard Devin Harris (season-high 16 points) and forward Brandan Wright (14). Center Samuel Dalembert scored 18 points and guard Jose Calderon had his first double-double in a Dallas uniform with 11 points and 10 assists.
“We got it done,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “I thought we did a lot of good things. There’s going to be some mistakes in any game. The good thing was the first half we had eight turnovers, the second half we only had five. Being able to sit Dirk for the last seven minutes is a big deal. It really helps us.”
The Mavericks (28-21) swept the season series from Cleveland for the second season in a row, and they won for the 11th time in the last 13 meetings in Dallas.
Harris continues to provide a spark off the bench. He made two baskets late in the third quarter to help Dallas take its largest lead of the game to that point (91-76), forcing a timeout from Cleveland coach Mike Brown.
“I’m trying to get comfortable out there,” Harris said after his eighth game of the season. “I’m trying to make the most of my minutes. Offensively we’re gifted, but we have to step things up defensively.”
The Mavericks held a double-digit lead throughout the fourth quarter despite an 8-0 run from Cleveland midway through the period. The Cavaliers (16-32) lost for the seventh time in eight games.
All-Star guard Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 27 points and dished out eight assists for Cleveland, which lost its fifth game in a row. Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson added 17 points and eight rebounds. Forward Luol Deng had 18 points for Cleveland, which was outrebounded 45-31.
“Offensively we did some nice things out there,” Brown said. “I thought we some great looks from the perimeter, especially early in the game, that did not go in. The ball was moving fairly well, the spacing was good. We had some
stretches where we couldn’t score.
“Dallas took advantage of it and they got some easy buckets, whether we turned it over or our floor balance was poor off of a missed shot. Dallas got some easy looks in transition and resulted in easy baskets for them.”
The Mavericks were hot in the first half, shooting 51.1 percent and taking as much as a 13-point lead. Nowitzki had 16 points at the break, and Ellis added 13.
Dallas was up early before Irving started to heat up. The Eastern Conference All-Star reserve nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to give Cleveland an 18-16 lead in the first quarter.
Nowitzki scored 12 points in the second period, and his consecutive 3s pushed the Mavericks out to a 52-39 advantage. The Cavaliers finished the half strong but still trailed 59-52 going into the locker room, with Irving accounting for 13 points.
Dallas finished its four-game homestand 3-1, and it next plays Wednesday at Memphis. The Mavericks hold a one-game lead on the Grizzlies for eighth place in the Western Conference.
The Cavaliers look to end their skid Wednesday at home against the Los Angeles Lakers.
“We need to keep pushing forward,” Brown said. “Guys have got to keep grinding. We’ve got to keep grinding until we get out of it. The only thing we can do is work, keep our head up, and keep looking forward. Try to learn from what we did tonight.”
NOTES: Dallas F Shawn Marion (shoulder/rib contusion) missed his second straight game. Second-year F Jae Crowder started in Marion’s place. … Cleveland C Anderson Varejao returned to the lineup after missing three games with a left knee contusion. He played with a brace on his knee, and he scored 10 points in 25 minutes. … Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is a fan of Cavaliers G Kyrie Irving. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a guy in 30 years in this league do the things off the dribble that he can do, in terms of getting places on the court,” Carlisle said. “Just a ridiculous change of direction, beyond crafty.” … Dallas rookie G Shane Larkin was recalled after a one-game stint in the D-League.
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