DALLAS (AP) - Peja Stojakovic gave the Dallas Mavericks a long-distance threat they were missing in recent big-game defeats.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 20 points, Stojakovic added 17, and Mavericks got back on track with a 101-73 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night to clinch their 11th straight playoff berth.
Stojakovic returned from a six-game layoff due to a stiff neck, a stretch that included losses to fellow Western Conference powers San Antonio and the Lakers in which the Mavs struggled from the perimeter.
Stojakovic came off the bench Sunday to go 5 for 8 from behind the 3-point arc.
``He really spreads the floor,' Nowitzki said. ``He was moving well, moving to his spots. He was aggressive and his shot was flowing. It was fun to watch.'
Stojakovic was eager to get back into the rotation, and it showed.
``I wanted to come off the bench ready, and was able to hit some shots in transition,' Stojakovic said. ``I need to spread the floor and be a threat out there.'
Rodrigue Beaubois contributed 15 points, Tyson Chandler pulled down 17 rebounds, and Ian Mahinmi collected a career-high 13 boards for the Mavericks, who had lost four of six.
Monta Ellis had 18 points for the Warriors, who have lost four straight.
Defeats to the Spurs and Lakers were blows to the Mavericks' collective ego, and with the playoffs approaching, coach Rick Carlisle was eager for his team to get back on track, especially on defense.
Carlisle burned a 20-second timeout with 9:04 left in the first quarter to chew out his team over its defensive effort, and the Mavericks responded by holding Golden State to an opponent season-low point total.
The Warriors crept within 60-56 early in the third quarter on Ellis' basket, but the Mavs finished the quarter with a 16-7 spurt for a 76-63 edge.
Dallas went on to lead by as many as 29 in the fourth quarter, holding Golden State to one point above its season-low total.
``We were really focused on what we had to do to stop them after the game with San Antonio,' Chandler said.
The teams met for the second time in five days. In the last matchup, Golden State raced to an 18-point first-half lead before Dallas rallied for a 112-106 road win.
Stojakovic buried 3-pointers on Dallas' first three possessions of the second quarter, expanding an eight-point lead to 40-23 with 10:24 left until halftime.
``Obviously, Stojakovic coming back and getting it going was a big factor for us,' Carlisle said. ``He's been shooting the ball at that level for 20 years.'
Golden State narrowed the deficit to 51-43 at the break, but a Warriors team that was averaging 103.1 points managed only 10 in the fourth quarter and went 9 for 33 from the floor in the second half.
``We missed a ton of open shots and opportunities,' Warriors coach Keith Smart said.
Notes: C Andris Biedrins (sprained left ankle) missed his second straight game for the Warriors. Biedrins is back in the Bay Area receiving treatment. ... Mavericks F Shawn Marion was out with a sprained right wrist sustained during Friday night's game against San Antonio. Marion expressed confidence he'd be able to return to the next team practice and would be available for Thursday night's home game against Minnesota. DeShawn Stevenson started in place of Marion. ...The Mavericks have won six in a row against the Warriors.
The Associated Press News Service
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