DALLAS (AP) – Not much has come easy for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season.
Facing one of the worst teams in the league, the Cavs needed a big fourth quarter to hold off the Dallas Mavericks.
Kevin Love had 29 points and 15 rebounds and Kyle Korver scored all 13 of his points in the final period to help the Cavaliers beat the Mavericks 111-104 Saturday night.
Cleveland took control of the game in third quarter and led by as many as 11 in the fourth, then saw the Mavericks twice cut the deficit to one point. Dallas could never break through, though, missing three shots that would have given them the lead.
With the American Airlines Center crowd standing for most of the game’s final four minutes, Harrison Barnes missed a 3-pointer with 39 seconds left that would have put Dallas up by one.
Korver – who hit three 3s in the quarter – was fouled on the rebound as he crashed to the floor, then made both free throws to put the Cavs up 106-102. Cleveland made seven of its final eight from the line to clinch the game.
LeBron James, averaging 36 points in the Cavs’ first five games in November, had just 19 Saturday, but two came on an emphatic dunk with 1:08 to play that put Cleveland up 104-100. He also had 11 rebounds.
“We’re just really resilient,” James said. “We relied on our championship habits from our guys on the floor, but also trying to get back to our mental toughness and figuring out how to win.”
Barnes finished with a team-leading 23 points and 12 rebounds, and Dennis Smith, Jr. had 21 for Dallas, which is tied with Atlanta for the NBA’s worst record at 2-11. Dirk Nowitzki scored 14 for the Mavericks.
“It’s never usually what happens in those last few minutes that dictates the game,” Barnes said. “It’s what you did earlier. Unfortunately, that deficit we built – we couldn’t really get past it.”
The Cavaliers outscored the Mavericks 34-22 in the third quarter to erase a three-point halftime deficit. Love scored 13 points in the first 5:38 of the quarter, and J.R. Smith’s long 3-pointer keyed a 15-2 run and forced a Dallas timeout.
“They just found me all night, especially in that third quarter,” Love said. “They kept feeding me the ball. They knew I had a little rhythm going and that set the tone for us.”
TIED FOR 13TH
J.R. Smith’s four 3-pointers gave him 1,797 for his career, tying him for 13th place all-time with Nowitzki, who had two 3s of his own in the game.
NO MINUTES FOR NOEL
Center Nerlens Noel did not play at all Saturday as the Mavericks turned to Dwight Powell and Salah Mejri to back up Dirk Nowitzki at center. Noel played just five minutes Tuesday against Washington and has seen his minutes slowly decline. Carlisle explained the decision by saying, “Minutes are earned – that’s all I can tell you.” Noel said he was disappointed by the lack of minutes but not frustrated: “(Carlisle) knows my number is ready when he calls it and I’ll give force to a winning effort.”
Cavaliers: Smith had 17 points and Jae Crowder had 15. Starting point guard Derrick Rose missed his second consecutive game with a left ankle sprain. Iman Shumpert started in Rose’s place. The team set no timetable for Rose’s return. … Tristan Thompson missed his fifth straight game with a left calf strain. Despite missing Thompson’s presence on the boards, Cleveland outrebounded the Mavericks 53-42.
Mavericks: Dallas set a franchise record by making at least nine 3s in their 13th straight game, but they shot just 29 percent from deep on Saturday, making 10-of-34. . Guard Devin Harris left the game in the third quarter with bruised ribs and probably won’t play on Sunday.
Cavaliers: Continue their four-game road trip at the Knicks on Monday.
Mavericks: Play the second half of a back-to-back at Oklahoma City on Sunday. Dallas then plays four in a row at home.