Playoff-bound Mavs top Warriors in home finale
DALLAS (AP) — Vince Carter and Brandan Wright are showing how much they can help Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry.
And that can be significant for the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks heading into the playoffs.
Wright had 17 points in 17 minutes and Carter’s 19 points included eight straight for Dallas early in the fourth quarter, when the Mavs finally pulled away from the young Golden State Warriors for a 104-94 victory Friday night.
“When it’s my turn, I’m going to come in aggressive and ready to play,” said Carter, the 13-year veteran who joined the Mavericks just before the season. “I just want to help these guys, Dirk and Jet (Terry), really take pressure off them so they don’t have to take double-teams all the time.”
Carter, who didn’t score before halftime, hit a long jumper to start the fourth quarter. When he ended his personal scoring streak with an assist on Terry’s breakaway 3-pointer, Dallas had stretched its lead to 87-75 with 9 minutes left.
“We were looking to get him involved,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He made good decisions, made shots and made a couple of good passes. It gives us another attacker out of the small forward position. That’s a plus.”
It was the last regular season home game for the Mavericks, who clinched a playoff spot Thursday night without even playing. They were guaranteed their 12th straight playoff appearance after Houston’s sixth consecutive loss, in New Orleans a night after the Rockets lost in Dallas.
The Mavericks finished 23-10 at home. Nowitzki and Delonte West each had 16 points, and Shawn Marion 14 in the finale.
“We’re playing as a cohesive unit out there,” said West, who had some big plays in the third quarter.
Dallas, sixth in the Western Conference standings, plays at Chicago on Saturday night. The regular season finale is Thursday at Atlanta.
Klay Thompson, one of four rookie starters for Golden State, had 26 points. Brandon Rush had 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting for the Warriors.
“I thought it was an outstanding effort when you look at the team we put on the floor,” coach Mark Jackson said. “We found a way to hang in until the fourth quarter when they got some separation.”
The Warriors, playing the first of three straight road days, were without five injured players.
Dallas didn’t go ahead for good until late in the third quarter.
Two free throws by Carter tied the game at 58 before West had a three-point play, driving and reaching around a defender for a bank shot high off the glass while being fouled and then making the free throw.
The third quarter ended with a scrambling possession by the Mavs. West made a 3-pointer from the right corner at the buzzer for a 76-70 lead.
“Our main goal is to finish strong and compete,” said Dorrell Wright, the only veteran starter for the Warriors. “It’s a learning process with four rookies starting. … They finished. That’s why they’re the defending champs.”
Wright had 19 points. Jeremy Tyler had 15 points and Charles Jenkins had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Center Andris Biendrins didn’t even make the trip, missing his third straight game because of a mild concussion, and guard Nate Robinson missed his second game in a row with a strained right hamstring. Also out were center Andrew Bogut (broken left ankle), guard Stephen Curry (sprained right ankle) and post player David Lee (strained groin).
Dallas led 40-29 midway through the second quarter after Wright scored 11 points in a 4-minute span. Nowitzki had the only other Mavs basket in that stretch.
Wright, the 6-foot-10 forward, is getting some of the minutes that were going to Lamar Odom before he played his last game with the Mavericks two weeks ago.
When Terry missed a 3-pointer, Wright grabbed the rebound among three defenders and went right back up for the first basket of the second quarter. Terry then had a steal and passed ahead to Wright for a powerful two-handed dunk.
Wright had another putback of a missed 3-pointer before Terry made a nifty behind-the-back bounce pass to Nowitzki for a long jumper. Less than 2 minutes after that, Nowitzki penetrated and passed off to Wright for a slam instead of taking a shot himself.
“I’m pretty much keeping the same way. I’m a pretty low key, calm guy and not get rattled,” Wright said. “I’ll keep the same routine, but obviously the games mean a lot more.”
NOTES: It was the ninth consecutive game Dallas had at least five players score in double figures. … Carter became the eighth player in NBA history with 1,500 3-pointers when he made one in the closing minutes. … Carlisle doesn’t plan for Jason Kidd to play Saturday night in Chicago. It is just a chance to rest the 39-year-old guard.