Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Streak Ends at 20 as Mavs Breathe Big Sigh of Relief

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Streak Ends at 20 as Mavs Breathe Big Sigh of Relief

Article excerpt

After his 3-pointer brought Minnesota within three points for the first time since the game's opening minutes, there was Isaiah "J.R." Rider in full stride, ready to slam a dagger into Dallas' heart.

Jamal Mashburn had seen enough. With all the force a 6-foot-8, 240-pound man can muster, he went for the block. He got mostly body, sending Rider crashing to the Target Center floor.

Rider reached up, asking Mashburn for a hand. But Mashburn dismissed his fellow rookie's pleas.

The Dallas Mavericks, who would go on to beat the Timberwolves 93-89 Thursday night to snap a National Basketball Association record-tying 20-game losing streak, were tired of being everybody's patsies.

"If it happens to me, nobody's going to help me," Mashburn said. "We're not going to be laughingstocks of the league. We're not going to let everybody go in and dunk on us uncontested."

Mashburn was assessed a flagrant foul and was ejected, taking 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds to the bench. There was 4 minutes 37 seconds to play.

The Mavericks, who routinely folded down the stretch during their streak and who already had blown most of a 20-point first-quarter lead, weren't going to blow this one.

After Minnesota cut Dallas' lead to 86-84, the Mavericks scored six of the next eight points to seal only their second victory in 25 games this season.

"I think my play helped us," Mashburn said. "If J.R. had dunked on us, it would have turned momentum in their favor. I'm sick of guys doing that to us. I was in position to do something about it. So I did."

And the Mavericks were in position to do something about their losing streak. So they did.

"It's a big relief," said Dallas' Jim Jackson, whose 28 points included four free throws in the closing seconds. "I think we matured tonight."

The victory let the Mavericks avoid breaking the single-season record they share with the Philadelphia 76ers, who lost 20 in a row in 1972-73. The record for consecutive losses, 24, was set over two seasons by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1981-82 and 1982-83.

Dallas' only other win this season came Nov. 12, a 115-99 triumph also at Target Center. In fact, the Mavericks have more consecutive victories there than Minnesota does this season. …

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