The Dallas Mavericks staged the biggest comeback in their franchise history as they came from 29 points down to claim a thrilling 107-100 triumph over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday. Minnesota held a 70-41 lead early in the third quarter, but the Mavericks turned up the pressure with Dirk Nowitzki knocking down back-to-back buckets to spark a remarkable 22-2 run that cut the deficit to single digits before the third quarter came to a close.
Jason Terry then took over in the final frame, engineering an 18-5 run by burying a pair of three-pointers and knocking down a 19-footer, before Nowitzki gave the Mavericks their first lead since early in the first quarter with a dunk. Terry led the way with 29 points off the bench for Dallas, while Nowitzki added 24 and 13 boards, Howard chipped in with 23 and Jason Kidd did his part with 14 and 16 assists.
Meanwhile, in other action, the weary Boston Celtics lost for the third time in four games when the Portland Trail Blazers scored a 91-86 upset victory over the defending NBA champions on Tuesday. Steve Blake scored 21 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 for the Trail Blazers, who shot 45 per cent and frustrated the champions for most of the game with their smothering defence. Boston (28-5) started the season 27-2, but lost two in a row at the start of its four-game western swing. The Celtics had crushed Sacramento 108-63 on Sunday, but ended the trip with another loss as Portland improved to 12-3 at home.
"Down the stretch we just made bad plays," said Ray Allen, who scored 12 points in a losing cause for the Celtics. "That's been the theme of the last three games we've lost." Joe Johnson buried a decisive three-pointer late in the fourth quarter and combined with Josh Smith for 51 points to lead the Atlanta Hawks to their sixth victory in a row with a 110-104 win over the Indiana Pacers, while Wilson Chandler scored 19 points as the New York Knicks ended their six-game losing streak with a hard fought 93-89 win over the Charlotte Bobcats.
The New Orleans Hornets moved up to second in the Western Conference table, behind the Los Angeles Lakers who were without a game, thanks to the seventh career triple-double for Chris Paul, who posted 15 points, 10 boards and 16 assists in a resounding 97-85 triumph over the Washington Wizards. The San Antonio Spurs dropped to third after the Milwaukee Bucks held off a late comeback to record a 100-98 win in their encounter.
In other games, Leandro Barbosa scored 28 points and Shaquille O'Neal added 24 to help the Phoenix Suns rally for a 101-89 away victory over the struggling Memphis Grizzlies, and Kevin Martin returned from injury to score 20 points as the Sacramento Kings broke a six-game losing streak with a 92-90 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. * With Agencies