The Pups welcomed Kevin Love back to the lineup Friday against the Dallas Mavericks following his two-game suspension for his foot facial to Luis Scola. The Wolves hoped to sweep the season series against the Mavericks for the first time since 1995. The Wolves had handily defeated the Mavericks in the first two match-ups of the season, winning by 17 points on January 1 and 15 points on January 25. Unfortunately, the third time would not be the charm for the Wolves against the Mavericks.
A play in the early minutes of the first quarter typified the game for the Wolves. Wesley Johnson lingered on the offensive end of the court to argue a call while his defensive assignment scored on the other and of the court. Johnson had another disappointing outing, scoring only one point on 0-3 shooting with a turnover and two personal fouls in 13 minutes of play. The Timberpups staff is having a serious confidence crisis when it comes to Syracuse draft picks. The Mavericks had an 8-0 run and a 12-0 run in the first quarter as Dallas surged to a 29-16 first quarter lead. The Wolves scored on only eight of 25 possessions, with seven turnovers which produced 12 points for Dallas This was another frustratingly slow start for the Wolves in front of an enthusiastic home crowd.
The Wolves chipped away at the Mavericks’ lead in the second quarter. The Wolves had fallen behind by 14 points in nine of their previous 14 games and somehow found a way to win eight of the games. The Wolves’ energy and defensive intensity in the first half of the second quarter closed the gap to 36-31. However, Dallas went on a 6-0 run to cool the Pups’ paws. Dallas was aided by three fouls by Michael Beasley in the second quarter, including an offensive interference and sucker foul against Dirk Nowitzki, a poorly timed foul by JJ Barea, and a shot clock violation by Ridnour. Dirk scored his 1000th career point against the Pups during the second quarter. He finished the first half with 16 points on 5-7 shooting and 3-4 on threes. Webster’s stats may suggest that he was a productive contributor. He was statistically effective while contributing little due to turnovers,fouls and defensive lapses. Webster committed a stunningly stupid foul by throwing an elbow against a defensive player during a 4 on 0 Pups break. Wesley Johnson was staggeringly ineffective with a -18 +/- in only 13 minutes of play. What are the Wolves going to do with this guy? The Wolves were 1-10 on three pointers in the first half, while the Mavericks’ bench contributed 26 points. The Wolves had 13 first-half turnovers, leading to 18 Dallas points.
After four quick points by KLove to start the second half, the Wolves again sputtered on both ends of the court. After cutting the Mavericks’ lead to five, Dallas went on on a 9-0 run helped by numerous Wolves mistakes and poor decisions. Ridnour’s poor shooting continued in the third quarter as Dallas surged to a 69-53 lead. Two equally remarkable things happened in the third quarter. Dirk missed both free throws after a foul, and Derrick Williams made both free throws after he was fouled. The Wolves were 1-13 on threes through the middle of the third quarter. The Wolves went on a 9-0 run as Ricky Rubio came alive. Michael Beasley provided some offense for the Wolves, while matching his offensive production with head-scratching decisions and plays. The Wolves pulled to within five at the end of the third quarter (78-73), and outscored the Mavericks 28 to 22 in the third quarter. Ricky Rubio scored or assisted on 13 of the Wolves’ final 17 points.
KLove brought the Wolves back early in the fourth quarter, but Dallas opened an 87-77 lead as Jason Terry showed JJ Barea how to play the game on three straight possessions. Barea added nothing to the Wolves’ offense, finishing the game with six points on 1-8 shooting with four turnovers and 0 assists. Barea can be an offensive scheme-killer when he decides to go one-on-nine, as he did on a few occasions tonight. Beasley finished the game with 20 points on 8-11 shooting, including four of five on threes. The Wolves were only 6-23 on three point shots, 2 of 18 without Beasley. Outside the paint, the Wolves again struggled, shooting only 10-36, after shooting 10-40 against Sacramento and 8-36 against Memphis. Is there a shooting guard with a high game IQ in this team’s future?
The outcome was sealed in the fourth quarter when the Wolves committed additional turnovers on their way to setting the franchise and NBA team high of 28 turnovers. Dirk Nowitzki had a season-high 33 points against the Wolves on 11 of 19 shooting. Jason Terry contributed 16 points. Jason Kidd provided eight points and 10 assists in 27 minutes. The Wolves were led by Kevin Love with 32 points and 12 rebounds. Beasley had 20 points on 8-11 shooting (but 5 fouls and 3 turnovers). Nikola Pekovic had 12 points and 7 rebounds. Ricky Rubio had 10 points and 8 assists with four turnovers. The Pups out rebounded the Mavericks 47-38, but had fewer assists (25-20), fewer steals (16-7), fewer blocked shots (8-1) and more turnovers (28-18) than the Mavs. The Mavericks shot 43% from both the field and on threes. While Dalas’ shooting made life difficult, the Wolves season-high 28 turnovers lead to some easy buckets. The Pups can only wonder what that kind of shooting is like.
The Wolves are 0-2 wearing the Muskies throwback jerseys. This game was a missed opportunity for the Wolves in front of their home crowd, as their season record slipped to 13-14. The Wolves will need to regroup and tighten up on both ends of the court as they await the arrival of the New York Knicks on Saturday night.