(Sports Network) - With the top spot in the Western Conference seemingly out of reach, the Dallas Mavericks can turn their attention to capturing the second seed in the standings when they conclude a three-game homestand tonight versus the Minnesota Timberwolves in Big D.
San Antonio has been the NBA's top team all season and is closing in on conference supremacy while Dallas is 1 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the No. 2 spot. The Spurs are six games ahead of LA and 7 1/2 games in front of the Mavs with 11 to play.
The Mavericks won for the second time in five tries with Sunday's 101-73 victory over the Golden State Warriors at American Airlines Center. Dirk Nowitzki scored 20 points and Peja Stojakovic returned from a six-game absence due to a neck ailment to post 17 points for Dallas, which is headed to postseason for the 11th straight year and outscored Golden State, 25-10, in the fourth quarter.
"This is a challenging team to play because they're very quick, they're very skilled," Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said of the Warriors. "It's one of our better defensive games in the last couple of weeks. It gives us something to build on."
Rodrigue Beaubois scored 15 points and Tyson Chandler grabbed 17 rebounds to go with seven points. Dallas, which bounced back from a loss to the Spurs in the opener of the residency, had a 51-39 advantage on the glass and scored 22 points off of 16 Golden State turnovers. Nowitzki has made his last 58 free throw attempts, which is the longest streak in the NBA this season, for a Dallas franchise aiming for its 11th consecutive 50-win season.
Mavs forward Shawn Marion is probable for tonight with a sprained right wrist and did not play against the Warriors.
Dallas is 38-4 this season when scoring 100-plus points in a game and owns a 22-6 mark in the previous 28 games. After Thursday's game, the Mavs, who are 25-11 in Big D this season, will embark on a six-game road trip against the Jazz, Suns, Clippers, Lakers, Warriors and Trail Blazers.
Meanwhile, the Timberwolves will try to stop a five-game road losing streak tonight in the opener of a two-game trek against the Mavs and Thunder. They have dropped four in a row overall and seven of nine games, including Sunday's 127-95 blowout loss to Sacramento.
Luke Ridnour scored 22 points, Anthony Randolph had 14 and both Michael Beasley and Darko Milicic scored 13 points for Minnesota. Randolph committed a game-high seven turnovers.
"I was trying too hard cause I was frustrated out there," said Randolph. "We didn't do a good job tonight and I didn't do a good job tonight. It's just unacceptable."
Wolves All-Star forward Kevin Love played only 14:14 versus the Kings because of a strained left groin and finished with four assists and three rebounds. He is expected to miss the next two games and leads the NBA with 15.4 rebounds per outing and 64 double-doubles. Beasley, meanwhile, is questionable for Thursday with a bruised left hip.
Minnesota, last in the West with a 17-54 record, will also make a stop in Oklahoma City and is only 5-30 away from the Twin Cities this season.
The Wolves recently dropped a 108-105 decision to Dallas on March 7 at the Target Center and have lost the first two meetings of the season with the Mavs. Dallas has won four in a row and 17 of the past 18 matchups against Minnesota, losers in two straight and nine of 10 contests in north Texas.