The Timberwolves got an important win over a conference rival--a team they'll likely be competing with for one of those final couple seeds out West.
The Timberwolves were without Chase Budinger (knee), Ronny Turiaf (elbow) AND Derrick Williams who was a late scratch with back spasms. With Derrick out that opened up playing time for rookie Robbie Hummel. Hummel saw a few seconds at the end of the first quarter and started the second quarter with Barea, Shved, Cunningham & Peković. Hummel scored his first NBA career points on a long two-pointer in that second quarter. Robbie played a total of 11 minutes in this one.
The Timberwolves jumped out to an early 21-11 lead in this one, but the Mavericks went on a 13-7 run to finish the quarter down just 4; 28-24. Kevin Love had 9 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists in the first quarter and he actually had his five assists with 3:30 to play in that first quarter! He'd finish with just three more total on the night as well as 6 more rebounds, but also 23 points.
With the subs in to start the second quarter, the Wolves' offense went stagnant once again. Peković was in with that second unit and he provided most of the scoring when they were on the floor together, but J.J. Barea really looked BAD tonight. Not just in the second quarter, but throughout this one, he had a number of open shots (wide open threes) that he couldn't knock down. The Wolves desperately need production from this second unit and there really hasn't been a game this season where that has been the case! Barea finished with just 5 points on 2-of-8 shooting in 16 minutes.
In my gameday preview I talked about matchups and how we could potentially see Corey Brewer on Monta Ellis in this one, though it likely wouldn't be right away considering that would likely leave Kevin Martin to guard the Mavs' leading rebounder: Shawn Marion. We didn't see that to begin the game, however we did see it in that third quarter and like Corey guarding Durant & Melo earlier in the season--he played some good defense on Dallas' leading scorer. Ellis definitely had a a rough go finishing with 23 points on 24 shot attempts.
Delving further into Monta Ellis and his stat line and role on this team, I'm very surprised that when Ellis was struggling throughout this one they didn't look to their best player more (Dirk Nowitzki). Dirk finished with just 14 points and took only 11 shots. I'm sure that is something that the Mavs and Rick Carlisle will likely look into as the season wears on.
With the bench struggling, Rick Adelman decided to mix up his rotations a bit more (especially without Derrick Williams). He never went to a full bench unit and instead mixed in starters--especially in the second half where I don't think Alexey Shved even saw the court (and rightfully so, because he's been bad this season). It ultimately made the fact that the bench only mustered 14 points look not as bad as they did. Some of J.J.'s struggles early in this season could be that when he is on the court, leading the bench unit, he's the only viable offensive weapon on the court and defenses realize that.
The Timberwolves hit the century mark with just under five minutes to go. The Timberwolves haven't lost this season when they've scored more than 100 points. That held true tonight as the Wolves walked away with the 8-point win (it would have been more without former Wolf Wayne Ellington scoring all 6 of his points in the final seconds on back-to-back triples from the left corner).
The Timberwolves reportedly had a long film session and a tough practice yesterday that certainly seemed to pay dividends in this one.
It was just a three-point game with 3:33 to play after Monta Ellis hit a layup to make it 105-102 Timberwolves. The teams exchanged empty possessions, however out of a timeout by Dallas, Kevin Love nailed a triple with 2:12 to go to make this a six-point lead. Love would score again on the next possession after he corralled a defensive rebound, however it was that three-pointer that was the dagger in this one.
The two Kevins & Peković closed out this one in the fourth quarter--Martin had 12 points, Love added 5 and Pek dumped in 6 as the Wolves outscored the Mavericks 31-27 in the fourth for the 8-point W.
Let's take a look at tonight's box score...
Dallas' best player tonight was Jose Calderon. He hit six three-pointers en-route to 21 points, while also being the facilitator he's known for with his 7 assists. Maybe they should shy away from both Dirk & Monta and look to Jose more! :) He did have a nice game against his fellow countryman (Rubio).
The Wolves had a good shooting night as they went shot above 45%. However, the big difference was in free throws. Minnesota shot twice as many free throws as Dallas and made 16 more total.
Tonight was also just the second time this season that the Wolves have out-rebounded their opponent.
MISC. Notes: Corey Brewer & Dante Cunningham were sporting red, white & blue headbands in honor of Veteran's Day (I assume) this coming Monday.......This was Rick Carlisle's 400th game as the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks......The Wolves were rumored to be interested in rookie Israeli guard Gal Mekel this summer and I can see why, he looked good out there and definitely outplayed former Mav J.J. Barea when they matched up against one another.........When asked about having two 30-point scorers, Adelman quipped, "It Helps".......
That's all for now, the Wolves will be back in action on Sunday. They'll travel to Los Angeles tomorrow to face the Lakers on Sunday and then the Clippers on Monday. Both of those games will of course be played at STAPLES Center. Until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!