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03/10/2013 10:23 PM EDT
Carter leads Dallas to 100-77 win over Minnesota
DALLAS 100, MINNESOTA 77

By JON KRAWCZYNSKI
AP Basketball Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The highlight-reel dunks and jaw-dropping
athleticism have all but disappeared from Vince Carter's game.
The old Vince is gone.



Now he's just Old Vince, and that's more than fine with the
Dallas Mavericks.



Carter had 22 points and nine rebounds and Dirk Nowitzki scored
16 points to help the Mavericks to a 100-77 victory over the
Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night.



The 36-year-old Carter is no longer a featured face for the NBA,
no longer soaring through the air in Toronto and New Jersey.
He's reshaped his game and accepted his role as a scorer off the
bench, filling it superbly for a Mavericks team clinging to
relevancy in the Western Conference.



"It's not necessarily just scoring, but, in general, I
understand what's going on and I just made it my business to be
locked in and want to do whatever is needed," Carter said.



Brandan Wright added 13 points and seven rebounds for the
Mavericks, who have won three straight and four of their last
five in a last-ditch push for the playoffs. They entered the day
in 11th place in the West, three games out of the eighth spot.



Derrick Williams had 18 points and nine rebounds for the
lethargic Timberwolves, who had no energy on the second night of
a tough back-to-back that started in Denver. J.J. Barea scored
16 points, but Minnesota's bench managed just six other points.
The Wolves are 6-25 since Kevin Love broke his hand for the
second time on Jan. 8.



In what has been a season-long problem, the Wolves shot 36
percent and were just 2 for 18 from 3-point range.



"It's hard to win games if you can't hit shots in this league,"
said coach Rick Adelman, whose Wolves were also missing Chase
Budinger (knee), Andrei Kirilenko (calf) and Nikola Pekovic
(abdomen). "It's something (where) we thought we had people, but
it's hard to evaluate when you have all these guys out."



The Mavericks have boasted one of the league's best benches all
season, entering the game third in the NBA in bench scoring at
40.7 points per game. With Shawn Marion out for the second
straight game with an injured left calf and leading scorer O.J.
Mayo held to eight points, Dallas needed another strong night
from that group, and got it.



Elton Brand had 10 points and 12 boards and Darren Collison
added nine points and eight assists. They topped 50 bench points
for the 12th time this season, and Carter led the way once
again.



The Timberwolves, playing with only nine healthy players, were
victims of the schedule as well. They played in Denver on
Saturday night, then essentially lost two hours with the time
zone change and Daylight Savings. Most players and coaches
didn't get home until after 4 a.m. on Sunday, then had to be at
the arena an hour sooner than normal for an early start to the
game.



"We're not going to blame that," said point guard Ricky Rubio,
who had seven points on 3-for-12 shooting. "That's what a bad
team does."



Both teams were stuck in mud early, but the Mavericks turned it
on when the reserves came in. Carter hit six of his seven shots
in the first half, including three 3s. He outscored the Wolves
bench 15-8 by himself in the first half, and two from deep
during a 16-2 run put Dallas in control.



"We depend on him for so much," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said.
"Playmaking off the bench, scoring off the bench, defense,
rebounding. He really plays a terrific all-around game, so he's
essential to whatever we're doing."



Nowitzki missed the first 27 games of the season while
recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, and it's
been a long, gradual climb back to the Dirk he was before the
surgery. That buttery jumper is steadily getting homed in. He
hit 7 of 13 shots on Sunday, the eighth time he's shot at least
50 percent in the last month.



The rust isn't entirely off, though. Early in the third quarter,
Nowitzki came off a screen for his patented pick-and-pop on the
baseline. He had the ball for a wide-open jumper, raised up,
then landed without releasing the ball for a traveling
violation. He head-butted the ball to the official to
acknowledge his brain cramp and headed back up the floor.



"We got to keep an edge as we keep going on this trip," Carlisle
said. "Each game is too meaningful with everything we've been
through and everything else. We owe it to ourselves and
everybody that follows us, we got to stay right in this and
really focus."



NOTES: Dallas out-rebounded Minnesota 59-40. ... Mayo also had
eight rebounds and seven assists and was able to play through a
right ankle injury in the third quarter. ... Wolves G Alexey
Shved's horrendous slump continued with an 0-for-7 night. ...
Barea was 6 for 15. The rest of the Wolves bench was 2 for 15.
... Mickael Gelabale had 13 points for Minnesota.

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