Don’t call it a comeback, but the Dallas Mavericks are bouncing back from rock bottom. They are now on a three-game winning streak after recording a 113-98 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Dallas began the game on a 22-11 run and never trailed at any point. With the victory over the Timberwolves, the Mavericks recorded their third consecutive win, which ties their season-best win-streak. They also won 3 straight: Nov. 3 vs. Charlotte through Nov. 7 vs. Toronto, and Dec. 6 at Phoenix to Dec. 10 vs. Sacramento.
Darren Collison tallied a game-high 23 points to go along with nine assists and three steals in 36 minutes against the Timberwolves. It was his fifth 20-point effort of the season. He led Dallas in scoring for the eighth time this year, includes ties. Collison has now scored in double figures in each of his last 12 games. O.J. Mayo recorded 20 points to go along with seven rebounds, a season-high nine assists and two steals in 38 minutes. It was his 17th20-point effort of the season. He was efficiency personified as he shot a season-high 72.7 percent (8-of-11) from the floor. Elton Brand turned back the clock as he tallied a season-high 20 points to go along with six rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes against Minnesota, previous high: 17 points on two occasions. Brand led all players with 14 points in 14 first-half minutes. He missed his first shot of the game and then made 10 of his next 12.
Collision (23), Mayo (20) and Brand (20) all scored 20-plus points for Dallas in the win. It marked the first time this season that the Mavericks had three players with 20-plus points in a game. The last time Dallas had three players score at least 20 and Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t one of the player was Jan. 30, 2012 vs Phoenix (Vince Carter 21, Shawn Marion 20 and Delonte West 25). Dirk had 10 in that game. Dirk finished the game against Minnesota with 10 points.
Dallas was sharing the wealth as they handed out a season-high 33 assists against Minnesota. It marked the second time this season that the Mavericks have recorded 30-plus assists in a game, 31 vs. Charlotte 11/3.
Here is the quoteboard for the victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
On how it felt to be back in Dallas and playing against the Mavericks: “It’s always special. I have a lot of good history here. This is where it all started and where it all happened, so I’m always going to love coming back to Dallas. The fans are always awesome too so it’s always special to come back.”
On the play of Elton Brand and the team in general tonight: “Elton’s playing great. He’s shooting well and he’s rebounding well. He’s giving us a physical presence on the inside. That’s what we need from him. I thought the key to the game was our tempo was good, we kept the ball moving. Thirty-three assists is a really good number and we had two guys with nine. Mayo had 20 points, but I thought his nine assists and seven rebounds were really big. I think he’s doing better and better defensively, which is very encouraging. Collison played a terrific game – he had a lot of assists, too. He was the guy that really was the key guy keeping the pressure on them from a tempo standpoint.”
Is this what you’re looking for out of Mayo and Collison on a night in and night out basis: “Yeah. Consistence at both ends is really what we need from everybody. The guard position is a more important position this day and age in the league. Those guys are really key for us.”
On keeping team turnovers down: “We’re playing with more familiarity with one another, with more familiarity with the system. Our reads are better. We’ve been doing some good things in that area. The challenge will be continuing.”
On if Darren Collison’s confidence level has improved: “I’ve viewed him as a confident-looking player all year long. He hasn’t wavered much there. But he’s worked hard. He’s worked on his body. He’s a little stronger even though we’re getting to be midyear. His enthusiasm I think has increased. We keep running guys in here at that position and he keeps working hard, which is good to see.”
What needs to happen going forward: “We’ve got to stay with the good things we’re doing offensively and get a little bit more of an edge defensively and with the rebounding.”
On what leads to efficient night’s like this one for O.J. Mayo: “Simplicity and a concentration on playing an all around game of basketball and not just concentrating on being a scorer. I can’t stress that enough.”
On Mayo: “When Juice plays the way he played tonight and in the Washington game, he lifts the level of all the guys around him.”
On where they’re at with another win: “We’re okay, it’s just one game. We’re a long way from where we need to be at.”
On the offense: “It was a good start for me. We had six or seven guys in double figures. We were spreading the ball around and getting assists tonight. We played great. It was just one of those nights. You’re not going to shoot 60 percent every night but we’re happy to have it tonight.”
On gaining momentum with a three-game win streak: “We’re trying to close games. We were getting blown out for a little bit but now we’re in every single game and we’re winning games. We have some tough games coming up but if we keep playing like this we’ll be just fine.”
On how to maintain a level of consistency: “We’ve had a lot happen to us this season. With Dirk (Nowitzki) getting hurt, then coming back and getting acclimated back into the system with all the guys and I think we’re hitting our groove.”
On this being a game they needed to get: “Every game from here on out is a must-win for us. We let a lot of games slip in the past. The past is the past. Now, what we’ve got to focus on what’s ahead of us.”
On the overall comfort level of the team: “I think we’re now starting to feel more comfortable with the system. We understand what each other brings to the table. Now we can just play our game.”
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.