Tim Thomas took Dirk Nowitzki's spot in the starting lineup and did a nice impression with 22 points, helping the Dallas Mavericks beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 102-95 Sunday night to spoil LeBron James' 500th career game.
The Cavs had won five straight and their previous four against the Mavericks, but they trailed the entire second half. They pulled to 84-83 midway through the fourth quarter, but Dallas answered with a 12-4 spurt capped by 3-pointers from Jason Kidd and Jason Terry.
Nowitzki was recovering from a gruesome collision with Houston's Carl Landry on Friday night in which Landry lost five teeth, two of them becoming embedded in Nowitzki's right elbow. He needed several stitches to close the wound and was still too sore Sunday. He's hoping this will be the only game he has to miss.
While Thomas made up for most of his 26.1 points, the main reason Dallas won for the sixth time in seven games was getting solid contributions from a lot of players.
Terry scored 19 points, Kidd had 10 points and 11 assists, and both Drew Gooden and Shawn Marion had 12 points and eight rebounds. Josh Howard added 14 points and Erick Dampier had eight points and 10 rebounds, plus the satisfaction of both beating O'Neal and holding him in check; Shaq missed his first six shots.
James had 25 points, six assists and three rebounds, but didn't get enough help. Mo Williams scored only eight points (an 89-percent foul shooter, he missed a pair on one trip to the line) and Shaquille O'Neal was just 1 of 7 for five points.