Wolves aim for first win, hope to solve Mavs

The champs finally found the win column in their last outing and now the Dallas Mavericks will aim to continue their dominance over an improving Minnesota team when the two clubs mix it up on New Year's Day.

The Mavs have owned the Wolves recently, winning five straight and 18 of 19 overall in the series.

Dallas opened defense of its first NBA title with three straight losses before finally solving Toronto, 99-86, in North Texas on Friday. Ian Mahinmi scored a career-high 19 points off the bench in that one to lead Dallas.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 18 points and Jason Terry had 17 for the Mavericks, who finally broke through after becoming the first reigning NBA champions to start a season 0-3 since the 1969-70 Boston Celtics.

"Tonight I was just trying to make plays," Mahinmi said. "Obviously, we were on a losing streak, and I did everything I could out there to get that win."

Shawn Marion scored 12 and Jason Kidd added nine points, seven rebounds and six assists.

The Wolves, meanwhile, have been competitive so far but have nothing to show for it. The latest setback came Friday at Target Center when LeBron James celebrated his 27th birthday in style with another tight Miami victory.

James scored 34 points and his inbounds pass to Dwyane Wade resulted in the go-ahead alley-oop layup with 4.6 seconds left, as the Heat edged Minnesota, 103-101, spoiling a dazzling night for rookie Ricky Rubio.

Rubio, who had 12 points and 12 assists, was bottled up on Minnesota's final possession. Wayne Ellington's jumper from the left wing caromed off the back of the rim as time expired.

Kevin Love totaled 25 points and 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who fell to 0-3, but have been outscored by just nine points in those contests.

"We're encouraged," Love said. "I think if we continue to do that we're going to win and it's going to be contagious. I just like the way we played. In order to get better, obviously we need to win games like this."

The Timberwolves played without guard J.J. Barea (strained left hamstring) and center Nikola Pekovic (strained left adductor muscle) against Dallas. Barea is questionable for tonight's contest while Pekovic is expected to remain sidelined.