If the Dallas Mavericks play the same defense they played against Indiana on Feb. 12, they’ll have a successful run in the final 29 games of their season.
The Mavericks held the Pacers to a season-low 73 points and handed Indiana just its third home loss of the season, 81-73.
Monta Ellis had a game-high 23 points while Dirk Nowitzki added 18.
George Hill led six Pacers in double figures with 14.
The 73 points was also a season-low for a Mavs opponent.
The Pacers were up 62-60 after three quarters, but the Mavs outscored Indiana 21-11 in the final quarter to seal their 32nd win of the season.
After going 41-41 and missing the playoffs last season, the Mavs enter the All-Star break at 32-22 and a half game ahead of the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns for the 6th seed in the West.
Dallas has played extremely well in its last nine, going 7-2, aside the fact they lost by 25 to the Charlotte Bobcats on Feb. 11.
This truly is what fans expected. The Mavs need to play the same kind of defense they showed in Indy.
They also had a great rebounding effort against the fourth-best rebounding team in the league. Dallas, 28th in the league, matched the Pacers total with 47.
Both numbers will be extremely important if fans want to see the Mavs move up in the standings.
The center position has excelled as of late. Samuel Dalembert seems to be finding some consistency and DeJuan Blair continues to impress.
At one point, Blair had nine points and three blocks in eight minutes during a nice little run by the Mavs in the first half.
Brandan Wright has come into his own and is finding nice chemistry with most of the players, including fellow UNC Tar Heel Vince Carter.
If all goes well and things keep up, the Mavs could jump into the 5th spot with the Portland Trail Blazers slipping at the moment. If not, the Mavs have a great shot at staying in the 6th spot and facing the likes of either the Blazers, Houston Rockets or Los Angeles Clippers.
All three would be terrific first-round match ups for Dallas. The Mavs have struggled against the San Antonio Spurs, and only faced the OKC Thunder once, but have shown to play well against the other three.
The Mavs are 2-2 against Houston, where Nowitzki has scored 30 or more in his last three versus the Rockets.
Dallas has proven it can take it against the Blazers and Clips on the road. The Mavs defeated the Blazers 108-106 in Portland while had a 17-point fourth-quarter lead in LA before falling to the Clips.
Nowitzki will be playing in his 12th-career All-Star game on Sunday before the Mavericks return home Feb. 18 to welcome in the two-time champion Miami Heat.