Mavs top Cavaliers despite Nowitzki's absence

DALLAS (Reuters) - The Dallas Mavericks shook off the absence of injured starter Dirk Nowitzki to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers 102-95 in a meeting of division leaders on Sunday.

Tim Thomas, who started for Nowitzki, scored 22 points and Jason Terry had 19 for the Southwest Division-leading Mavericks, who ended Cleveland's five-game winning streak.

"It is a huge win," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters. "Any time you can win without a guy like Dirk, it just says a lot about the group of guys and the team."

LeBron James, who top scored for the Cavaliers with 25 points, agreed.

"They have guys on that team that are All-Stars even without Dirk," James said. "Those guys stepped up."

Nowitzki was rested after sustaining a cut on his right elbow in Friday's game against Houston.

"I was going to try to step up and actually try to go a little bit and get a couple of jumpers up before the game, but I just couldn't get my elbow up, couldn't extend my elbow out, couldn't really bend it," Nowitzki said.

Thomas had seven points in the first four minutes of the third period to help Dallas to a 12-point lead.

"We made some mistakes in the first half and we corrected them at halftime," Thomas said. "LeBron was doing most of the scoring in the first half, so we just wanted to make the other guys beat us."

James scored 18 points in a rampant first half for the Central Division-leading Cavaliers, but was checked late in the game and had little support from guard Mo Williams, held to eight points, and center Shaquille O'Neal, who managed just five.

Delonte West picked up some of the slack scoring 18.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina. Editing by Ian Ransom)