MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Wesley Matthews hit six 3-pointers and scored 19 points and the Dallas Mavericks won a game they couldn’t afford to lose, 88-78 over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.
J.J. Barea scored 21 points and the Mavericks (39-38) made 14 of 40 3-pointers to overcome 38.6 percent shooting for their fourth straight victory.
They forced 18 turnovers and held their opponent under 100 points for the fourth straight game as they push for one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference.
Andrew Wiggins scored 30 points and Karl-Anthony Towns had 11 points, 21 rebounds and nine assists for the Timberwolves. Ricky Rubio had nine points and five assists, but left with four minutes to play after taking a shot to the face.
The Mavericks came into the game tied with Utah for the seventh seed in the West and with Houston just a game behind in the ninth spot.
The Mavericks host the Rockets on Wednesday and have a challenging finish with games against the Grizzlies, at the Clippers and Utah and then home against San Antonio to finish the season.
The schedule made this one against the team with the fifth-worst record in the league a big one for the Mavericks.
But whether they were groggy for the Sunday matinee start or taking a team with 25 wins a little lightly, the Mavericks didn’t look sharp on offense. Dirk Nowitzki missed 12 of 16 shots, including three air balls.
The Mavericks also got hurt on defense early, with the Wolves shooting 63 percent in the first quarter.
The only things that kept Dallas in the game in the first half were Barea’s shot-making and the Wolves’ carelessness. The former Timberwolves sparkplug scored 14 points in the first half and the Wolves turned the ball over 11 times.
The Mavericks trailed 57-52 in the third quarter before unleashing a 23-6 surge to put the game away. Matthews hit three 3s during that run and rookie Justin Anderson’s defense helped lock down a Minnesota offense that has been one of the most prolific in the league since the All-Star break.
After three quarters, Dallas had made 13 3s while Minnesota had only attempted 13.
Devin Harris scored 16 points off the Dallas bench, which outscored Minnesota’s 24-9.
Mavericks: Coach Rick Carlisle said PG Deron Williams (abdominal) is making progress, but is not close to returning to the court. He said Williams has been working hard in his recovery, but there remains no timetable for his return. … PG Raymond Felton played 18 minutes despite being listed as questionable with a right groin injury.
Timberwolves: PG Tyus Jones went 0 for 1 from 3-point range and has missed 21 straight from long range. … Towns had 13 rebounds and six assists in the first half, becoming just the second player in franchise history to post numbers at least that high. Kevin Garnett had 13 boards and seven assists in a half in 2001.
Mavericks: Host Houston on Wednesday.
Timberwolves: Visit Golden State on Tuesday.