How it happened: Playing without center Tyson Chandler for a third consecutive game (sprained right ankle) and without Dirk Nowitzki for large chunks of the second and third quarters (foul trouble), the Dallas Mavericks wobbled and bobbled, but in the end managed to get by double-double machine Kevin Love and those pesky Minnesota Timberwolves.
Jason Terry, despite a cold shooting game (3-of-11), padded his NBA Sixth Man of the Year résumé with another fourth-quarter dagger. His 3-pointer with 1:37 to play extended the Dallas lead to 101-97, a cushion the Mavs were finally able to hold after multiple Minnesota runs for their 46th victory of the season.
Give benchwarmer Brian Cardinal, a former member of the Timberwolves, ample credit for this win, as well. With Nowitzki sitting, Cardinal answered the bell and drained 4 of 8 from 3-point range for a season-high 12 points in 17 minutes. He also collected a charge and was around numerous loose balls.
"Without Cardinal," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said, "I don't think we would have won the game."
The Mavs rallied from an 11-point deficit in the second quarter to trail just 50-48 at the half. Then, just as they seemed to be taking control in the third quarter, the Wolves reeled off a 15-0 run to go up by 10. Nowitzki buried a 3 just after Carlisle called a timeout and reluctantly put Nowitzki back in the game with four fouls.
His 3 cut the deficit to 80-73 heading into the fourth quarter, and the Mavs carried that momentum into the decisive frame. It took just 2:53 for the Mavs to reclaim the lead, 85-82, on a J.J. Barea 3-pointer. Barea nailed another big 3-pointer to put the Mavs up 92-87 with 6:17 left to go. He scored all eight of his points in the fourth quarter.
But the Wolves weren't done. Dirk finally ended an 8-0 Wolves run that had them up 95-94. It went back and forth until Terry's bomb, his lone make on six attempts, allowed the Mavs to pull away against a team that just has no clue how to close out a game.
Nowitzki led Dallas with 25 points in 27 minutes. He was 10-of-10 from the free throw line with eight coming in the fourth quarter. Jason Kidd was the only other starter in double figures with 13 points. Roddy Beaubois had nine in 17 minutes. He was 4-of-10 from the floor and 1-of-4 from the 3-point line. Peja Stojakovic continued to struggle. He finished with nine points and was 1-of-4 from downtown, but he did hit the 3 and another jumper in the fourth quarter.
Carlisle turned to Shawn Marion to start the third quarter in place of Stojakovic in an up-and-down tempo more suited for the Matrix, who had nine points and 10 rebounds in 32 minutes. Recently acquired small forward Corey Brewer played just six minutes with a dunk in his return to Minnesota.
After a last-second loss at home Sunday to Memphis -- which beat Oklahoma City on Monday night -- the Mavs will take a difficult and mostly ugly win on the road and move on.
What it means: The Mavs have won 19 of 21 and start a new streak after their eight-game streak was busted up Sunday by Memphis. The Mavs now play three games in five nights: at New Orleans (Wednesday), then back home for the new-look New York Knicks (Thursday) and the Los Angeles Lakers (Saturday). The win kept the Mavs two games ahead of L.A. in the loss column.
Play of the game: With 6:57 to go in the third quarter, Love spotted up at the 3-point line and drained the shot to give him 10 points in the game. Combined with his 11 rebounds at the time, Love recorded his 51st consecutive double-double of the season, passing Moses Malone for the longest single-season streak since 1976-77 and tying Malone for the longest overall streak since the ABA-NBA merger in 1978-79. Love will look to pass Malone's overall streak Wednesday at home against Indiana. The first-time All-Star finished with 23 points and 17 rebounds.
Stat of the night: The Mavs shot 34.3 percent from the 3-point arc, but that's not the eye-popping stat. They hit 12 from 3-point range, including four big ones in the fourth quarter, but that's not the eye-popping stat. The eye-popping stat is the 35 long balls the Mavs hoisted. Three players -- Cardinal, Kidd and Terry -- all shot at least six and combined for 20 of the attempts.