MINNEAPOLIS — Even at 37 years old, Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki isn’t showing many signs of slowing down.
The Minnesota Timberwolves found that out the hard way.
Nowitzki scored a game-high 29 points as the Mavericks edged the Timberwolves 93-87 Sunday at Target Center.
Forward Chandler Parsons added 14 points and center Zaza Pachulia scored 13 as the Mavericks handed the Timberwolves their sixth consecutive loss. On a night when Dallas’ offense struggled a bit, though, the Mavericks (22-16) leaned on Nowitzki’s scoring touch.
“He’s a guy that’s prepared himself for greatness virtually every night,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of Nowitzki. “One of the things we want to try to do is take some of the burden off of him, but there’s nights like tonight where it’s unavoidable.”
Minnesota (12-26) fell for the 14th time in 17 games.
Nowitzki was Dallas’ best long-range shooter, hitting four of seven shots from beyond the 3-point arc. The rest of the Mavericks were 2-for-13 from deep.
Nowitzki finished the game 12-for-22 from the floor and added seven rebounds in 31 minutes. It was his fourth consecutive 20-point effort and his 13th such game this season. His 29 points were two shy of his season high.
“The guys kept coming to me,” Nowitzki said. “Defensively, it was a
good effort tonight. We didn’t have a lot of guys who were shooting the ball especially well, but I thought defensively we kept battling.”
Second-year guard Andrew Wiggins led Minnesota with 21 points, while Shabazz Muhammad scored 16 points in 28 minutes off the bench. Rookie Karl-Anthony Towns had a quiet night by his standards, scoring just 10 points and grabbing four rebounds.
Minnesota led by as many as eight early in the game before Dallas took a lead in the second quarter. The Timberwolves committed 17 turnovers, which the Mavericks cashed in for 17 points the other way.
“Our mistakes are magnified because when we make them, other teams capitalize,” Minnesota interim head coach Sam Mitchell said. “If we don’t get a loose ball, they get a three or a layup. If we don’t get back in transition, it’s a layup. When you turn the ball over or we gamble defensively, we give up wide-open shots.”
After leading by six at halftime, the Mavericks used an 18-4 run to close out the third quarter with a 68-55 lead, and never looked back. Former Timberwolves guard J.J. Barea hit a baseline jumper just before the end of the quarter to extend Dallas’ lead to 13.
Minnesota came as close as 85-81 late in the fourth quarter on a Wiggins layup, but Nowitzki converted a three-point play with 1:30 remaining, and Dallas held on.
“He’s one of the best to play this game,” Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio said of Nowitzki. “He can make shots. He was open, so he took them and he made the shots. That was the game.”
Pachulia, in his first year with the Mavericks after spending last two years with the Milwaukee Bucks, pulled down 11 rebounds. It was the 19th double-double this season for Pachulia, who is fitting in nicely with his new team.
“We got him for a Gatorade cooler,” Nowitzki said. “He’s been phenomenal for us.”
Timberwolves veteran guard Andre Miller endured a scary moment early in the fourth quarter when he hit the ground hard after getting fouled by center JaVale McGee. Miller landed hard on his back with 10:06 remaining and remained on the court for a few minutes before eventually getting up and walking to the bench on his own power. Miller stayed in the game and hit the ensuing free throw.