Dallas, TX – Nikola Pekovic netted a team-high 20 points and pulled down six rebounds as the Minnesota Timberwolves knocked off the Dallas Mavericks, 90-82, on Monday at American Airlines Center.
Andrei Kirilenko finished with a double-double on 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Alexey Shved also added 16 points for the Timberwolves, who are off to their best seven-game start (5-2) since they won six of their first seven in 2001.
Luke Ridnour and Dante Cunningham chipped in with 15 and 14 points, respectively, in the victory.
"It was a great team win," Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said. "They came out and believed they could win. Our defense was terrific all night long."
Darren Collison scored a game-high 21 points and O.J. Mayo added 18 in the setback for the Mavericks, who fell to 4-4 on the season.
The contest remained close early as the T'Wolves held a slim 12-11 lead with 6:47 left in the frame.
Minnesota then used an 11-2 burst to open a 23-13 advantage, capped by a deep trey from Ridnour, with 2:52 to play in the stanza.
Pekovic closed the quarter with a 7-foot hook shot to give Minnesota an eight- point edge after one.
Trailing, 29-17, early in the second quarter, the Mavericks began to chip away at the lead, getting the margin down to three courtesy of an 11-2 surge, with 6:03 left before the break.
The T'Wolves answered with a 10-2 burst of their own, building the lead back to 41-30 with 3:22 to go.
A pair of Ridnour free throws right at the tail end of the half gave Minnesota to 45-39 lead at the half.
Minnesota kept the Mavs at arm's length for the duration of the third quarter, as a run out flush by Kirilenko gave the T'Wolves a 64-51 advantage with 3:52 to play in the stanza.
Dallas, though, closed the quarter with a 7-2 spurt to cut the deficit to eight heading into the fourth.
The Timberwolves were never in jeopardy of losing their lead in the final 12 minutes as Dallas couldn't get closer than six.
"A game like tonight makes it seem like you're a zillion miles from being a good team," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "We're not as far away as it feels, we just have to keep working."
Minnesota, which is already without superstars Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love, played without key bench contributors J.J. Barea, Chase Budinger and Brandon Roy due to injury ... The T'Wolves have won three of the last four matchups between the teams ... Carlisle was ejected with five minutes to play after received a double-technical foul ... Dallas shot just 36.3 percent from the floor.