Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki & Elton Brand led the Mavericks to their 29th win of the season--quite easily. 36-year-old Carter was automatic every time he threw the ball up and finished with 22 on the night. 34-year-old Nowitzki had a good time as the Wolves continually left him open for mid-range jumper after mid-range jumper. Elton Brand turns 34 tomorrow as he had little resistance finishing with a 10-12 double-double.
The Wolves on the other hand had just nine healthy players: Rubio, Ridnour, Barea, Shved, Gelabale, Williams, Cunningham, Stiemsma & Johnson. Not only were we down to nine healthy guys, the Wolves were on the second night of a back-to-back that had finished almost 20 hours earlier to tonight's 6pmCT tipoff. The Wolves also didn't get back from Denver until 3am in the morning (thanks to the hour lost from Daylight Savings). You could see it in the way they played tonight. After the first quarter, every Wolves player looked just 'gassed'. Hands on their knees during free throws, gasping for air.
The Wolves played it close through the first quarter, but after that, the wheels fell off and this one quickly turned into a blowout. The Mavs came out in the second quarter and quickly piled on a 12-0 run to grab control. From that moment on the Wolves led by double digits for the remainder of this one, finishing with 100 points, while holding the Wolves to their lowest scoring output of the season (tied for first--had 77pts in that loss to the Clippers on 1/17).
There's really not that much more to tell. The Wolves won't be a competitive squad again until Andrei Kirilenko & Nikola Pekovic return from injury. They both told the media before tonight's game that they expect to return sometime this week. Pekovic said he is now pain-free and will begin basketball activities tomorrow.
With this loss the Wolves are now just 1.5 games out of the 15th place (last) in the Western Conference. You've also got to remember that the Wolves have still played the least number of games in the NBA this season (60). They'll be back in action on Tuesday to take on the Spurs and that'll be the first game of another back-to-back as they'll face the Pacers on Wednesday.
Let's take a look at the top performers...
Williams had another solid outing as the Wolves continue to rely on him for a big part of what they do offensively. After having an off night yesterday in Denver, he 'got back on track' somewhat tonight and finished with 18-9. He struggled early as he was turned away multiple times on drives to the bucket, but then began to step out and easily hit a number of mid-range jumpers.
Gelable followed up his season-high 19 points in Denver, with another solid outing tonight. Like everyone on the roster, he's been asked to do a lot more lately and these last couple of games, he's certainly delivered.
J.J. Barea did finish with 16pts, but did so on 6-of-15 shooting and finished with the worst +/- of the night at -26!
Greg Stiemsma has done the best he can these last few games without Pekovic in the lineup. He stayed out of foul trouble tonight and was able to play a career-high 31 minutes! His 10 field goal attempts are also a new career-high.
The Mavericks' old-timers got it done tonight! Vince Carter has been very fun to watch this season. He may not be a high-flyer that makes the Top 10 every night, but he's adjusted his game to remain a very effective player and one of the keys to any Dallas success. Rest assured, if the Mavs make the playoffs this season, it will be thanks to a big hand from their veteran guys.
The Wolves turned the ball over just nine times and that is probably the lone bright spot when you look at these team stats. Those nine turnovers are the second-lowest for the Wolves this season (lowest being 8). We know the Wolves shooting is poor, especially from deep. Without their top three rebounders (Love, Pekovic & Kirilenko) they were crushed on the boards. Dallas' 44 defensive rebounds and 59 total rebounds are both season-highs for a Wolves opponent. A big part of the Mavericks' success is their depth. That was clearly on display this evening as they combined for 58 points (22 from Carter alone) compared to the 22 from Minnesota (16 courtesy of J.J.). It'll be nice to get Pek & AK back, but the Wolves need more production from guys like Dante Cunningham and Alexey Shved, especially offensively and especially Alexey. He's clearly faceplanted into the rookie wall and he needs to find something that'll get his game back on track, because he's looked simply awful the past couple weeks. His shots aren't dropping and his body language is incredibly poor. I don't know what he needs, but I can tell you the Wolves are desperate for some offense and could really use the Shved we saw to begin the season!
That's all for now, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!