INDIANAPOLIS – Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle provided a spark, and his team played just as he hoped.
Monta Ellis had 23 points and nine rebounds, and Dirk Nowitzki added 18 points as the Mavericks handed the Indiana Pacers their third home loss of the season, 81-73 on Wednesday night.
“Coach got on us pretty good this morning,” Nowitzki said. “I thought we responded. We battled them and tried to make it tough on them.”
The Mavericks (32-22), who have won six of seven, finished a three-game road trip heading into the NBA All-Star break. Dallas’ five-game winning streak was snapped at Charlotte on Tuesday.
“It wasn’t that we didn’t respect Charlotte,” Carlisle said. “It’s that we had such great respect for Indiana. We knew we were going to have to play at a super high level.”
It wasn’t easy for either team.
Dallas won despite its second-lowest point total this season. The NBA’s highest-scoring team netted only 80 points in a loss to New York on Jan. 5.
The Mavericks came out on top by holding the Pacers to a season-worst 32.1 percent shooting.
George Hill had 14 points, and Lance Stephenson and Danny Granger both scored 13 for the Pacers (40-12), who have lost two of three.
“They beat us at our game,” Hill said. “They played well tonight and we just didn’t play good enough. We gave one away. It’s unfortunate, but it’s over now.”
The Mavericks outscored the Pacers 21-11 in the final quarter and scored the first six points of the fourth. Dallas took a 66-62 lead when Ellis made a free throw with 6:55 remaining.
Brandan Wright scored, Ellis made two more free throws, and Wright made a layup to give the Mavericks a 72-66 edge.
Indiana outshot the Mavericks in the fourth quarter, but Dallas pulled away by making 13 of 16 from the free throw line.
Hill scored late to make it 74-68, but Ellis made a pair of free throws. Stephenson scored on a lay-up, and George grabbed a steal and later hit a 3-pointer to make it 76-73 with 37 seconds remaining. Ellis scored four straight points from the line to give the Mavericks an 80-73 advantage.
“We were able to make just enough plays,” Carlisle said. “It was just a very competitive game from start to finish. There was a lot of attitude in the game, which is great. We were able to get out of here alive.”
The Mavericks are already looking past the break, and things won’t be any easier then. Dallas will hosts the Miami Heat in the first game after All-Star weekend.
Rockets 113, Wizards 112
In Houston, James Harden scored 35 points and his layup with 0.7 seconds remaining lifted the Rockets over Washington.
The victory sends Houston into the All-Star break with a season-best seven-game winning streak.
John Wall gave the Wizards the lead with a pair of free throws with 4 seconds left. Trevor Ariza fouled out when he pushed Harden to the ground on the ensuing inbounds pass. It was ruled a foul away from the play, giving the Rockets one free throw and possession.
Harden, who was 16-for-16 at the line, made the free throw before grabbing a pass from Chandler Parsons and driving into the lane for the winning shot.
Ariza had a season-high 32 points with a career-high 10 3-pointers.
Clippers 122, Trail Blazers 117
In Los Angeles, Blake Griffin scored 36 points, Chris Paul had 20 points and 12 assists, and the Clippers beat Portland.
Los Angeles converted 16 Portland turnovers into 20 points during a back-and-forth game that included 40 lead changes.
Paul made 10 of 15 shots in his second game back after missing 18 with a separated right shoulder, and Jamal Crawford added 25 points for the hosts. The Clippers have won 14 of their last 19 since Jan. 4, when the Spurs handed them their worst loss of the season, 116-92 in San Antonio.
Heat 111, Warriors 110
In Oakland, LeBron James capped one of his best games of the season in dramatic fashion, making a step-back 3-pointer with less than a second remaining to carry Miami past Golden State and into the All-Star break on a high note.
With teammate Dwyane Wade scratched from the lineup with a sore left foot, James shouldered the load for the two-time defending NBA champions. He finished with 36 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, saving his best moment for last.
After fellow All-Star Stephen Curry hit a bank shot to start a three-point play that put the Warriors ahead by two, James let the clock tick down on the other end. He swished in an 8-meter shot with two-tenths of a second left over Andre Iguodala, then patted his chest and high-stepped on the sideline to leave the announced sellout crowd of 19,596 stunned and silent.
Spurs 104, Celtics 92
In Boston, Tim Duncan scored 23 of his 25 points in the second half, powering injury-depleted San Antonio to a win over the Celtics.
Marco Belinelli added 16 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for the Spurs, who played without guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili and forward Tiago Splitter — all sidelined with injuries.
Boris Diaw added 18 points and Duncan grabbed nine rebounds to lead San Antonio to its fifth win in seven games.
Rajon Rondo led Boston with 16 points and Kris Humphries and rookie Kelly Olynyk had 15 apiece. The Celtics fell to 4-18 against Western Conference teams.
Timberwolves 117, Nuggets 90
In Minneapolis, Kevin Love started practicing early for All-Star weekend, making six of 11 shots from 3-point range and totaling 32 points and 11 rebounds to lead Minnesota over Denver.
Love, chosen as a first-time starter for the Western Conference team, will also take part in the 3-point shooting contest this weekend in New Orleans.
Denver (24-27) has dropped nine of 13 and four in a row to fall behind Minnesota (25-28) and into 11th place in the West. The T-Wolves trail eighth-place Phoenix by six games.
Jordan Hamilton led the Nuggets with 16 points and seven assists, and J.J. Hickson added 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Corey Brewer added 22 points, J.J. Barea pitched in 18 points on 8-for-8 shooting, and Ricky Rubio had 11 points and 12 assists for the Wolves, who had coach Rick Adelman back on the sideline. He missed the previous game on Monday, an absence he said was related to his wife’s health.
Cavaliers 93, Pistons 89
In Auburns Hills, Michigan, Kyrie Irving’s 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with 27.2 seconds remaining keyed Cleveland’s victory over Detroit.
Tristan Thompson scored 14 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter for the Cavaliers, overpowering the Pistons’ vaunted front line as they rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final period. Cleveland won its fourth straight and snapped the Pistons’ three-game winning streak.
Andre Drummond had 16 points and 17 rebounds for the Pistons, but he didn’t do much in the fourth quarter, when Thompson took control inside.
Raptors 104, Hawks 83
In Toronto, DeMar DeRozan scored 31 points, Kyle Lowry had 16 points and 13 assists, and the Raptors snapped a five-game home losing streak to Atlanta.
Patrick Patterson scored 14 and Terrence Ross 13 as the Raptors beat the Hawks in Toronto for the first time since March 17, 2010, when Chris Bosh hit a jumper in the closing seconds of a 106-105 victory.
Greivis Vasquez scored 12 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 14 rebounds as Toronto won for the 10th time in 12 home games and maintained a three-game edge over Brooklyn atop the Atlantic Division. The Raptors had lost seven of their past eight home meetings with the Hawks.
Grizzlies 86, Magic 81
In Orlando, Zach Randolph had 20 points, Courtney Lee added 17 and Memphis held off the Magic.
Memphis beat Orlando for the sixth straight time and enters the All-Star break having won eight of its last 11.
Nik Vucevic had 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Magic.
Nets 105, Bobcats 89
In New York, Paul Pierce scored 25 points to lead Brooklyn over Charlotte.
Deron Williams added 13 points and seven assists, and Andray Blatche scored 13 off the bench to help the Nets win their final home game before the All-Star break.
Brooklyn went on a 15-3 run to open the third quarter, extending its lead to 17, and never looked back.
Kemba Walker led the Bobcats with 16 points. Al Jefferson, who scored at least 26 in each of his previous three games, was limited to 12 on 5-for-13 shooting.
Kings 106, Knicks 101 (OT)
In New York, Rudy Gay made the tying basket in regulation and a 3-pointer in overtime that gave Sacramento the lead for good, and Jimmer Fredette scored a career-high 24 points to help the Kings beat New York.
Gay finished with 20 points for the Kings, who shook off a 13-point deficit and the loss of DeMarcus Cousins late in regulation to salvage the finale of a four-game road trip. Cousins had 19 points and 14 rebounds before limping off with about 3½ minutes left.
Carmelo Anthony had 36 points and 11 rebounds for the Knicks but flopped at the finish, missing a potential winning shot in regulation before blowing a layup on the first possession of overtime. He was scoreless in the extra session.
Pelicans 102, Bucks 98
In Milwaukee, Eric Gordon scored 21 points, center Alexis Ajinca added 16 and New Orleans headed home for All-Star weekend with a victory over the lowly Bucks.
The Pelicans had seven players in double figures and stayed in the game despite foul trouble all night for big man Anthony Davis.
Brandon Knight had 22 points and nine assists for Milwaukee.
Jazz 105, 76ers 100
In Salt Lake City, Alec Burks scored 10 of his 26 points in the final 2 minutes to lift Utah over skidding Philadelphia.
The game was tied 91-91 when the Jazz looked to Burks to create some offense. The guard made a number of acrobatic drives to the basket and capped a personal 9-0 run with a soaring dunk to make it 100-91 with 22 seconds to play.
Utah’s top scorer off the bench got to the free throw line with his aggressive play, making 13 of 14 from the stripe in 22 minutes. His clutch scoring extended Utah’s winning streak to three and sent the Sixers to their ninth straight road loss to the Jazz.
Evan Turner scored 21 points for Philadelphia. The 76ers lost their eighth straight, the previous two by more than 40 points each.