Minnesota Timberwolves 114 – Dallas Mavericks 106

Photo Credit: Associated Press - Genevieve Ross

Photo Credit: Associated Press – Genevieve Ross

The Timberwolves returned to Target Center to complete the end of a back-to-back and got the boost they needed from the return of Boy Wonder, Ricky Rubio.  In just 18 minutes of action, Rubio razzled and dazzled the packed house that came to see his return, with 8 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals.  Big Al is going to ask me to stop doing recaps if this keeps up because the homerism I project when talking about Rubio is borderline nauseating.

Here’s how things went down.  The Wolves opened up with Ridnour, Shved, Kirilenko, Cunningham, and Pekovic.  Kevin Love was out of the game due to flu-like symptoms, not his injured hand from Friday night’s game in NOLA.  It is a bit interesting that Cunningham got the start over Derrick Williams, but he’s certainly earned it so far this season.  The Mavs opened up with super-villain Derek Fisher, OJ Mayo, Dahntay Jones, Shawn Marion, and Chris Kaman.

The Wolves ran virtually the same play on the offensive end as they did in Friday’s game for an easy layup to start the game.  However, after that opening bucket the Wolves struggled through the next few minutes, falling behind a Derek Fisher led Mavs team that was coming off a horrendous loss the night prior in Toronto.  The defensive effort of the Pups early was awful, allowing the Mavs to do virtually whatever they wanted and building a lead of 20-9.  Minnesota answered with a five point run by Alexey Shved’s three pointer and alley-oop assist to AK47.

With the Wolves down 28-18 and 1:47 left in the 1st quarter, Boy Wonder checked into the game to a standing ovation.  Ricky wore a white brace on his left knee.  His first points came at the FT line after being fouled by Derek Fisher on an in-bounds play.  Adelman went with an interesting lineup to close out the quarter, with Rubio, Barea, and Shved all on the floor at the same time.  Rubio closed the quarter with a nice skip pass to JJ Barea under the basket which led to two points on a goaltending call.  However, at the end of the quarter, the Mavs were still up by 10 points, 32-22.

The Wolves opened the 2nd quarter with the same five that ended the 1st quarter – Rubio, Barea, Shved, DWill, and Stiemsma.  Rubio led the way early in the quarter with a few flashy passes and his first bucket of the season.  After Shved hit a three pointer, the Mavs quickly called a TO.  Over the next few minutes, the Wolves slowly but surely cut into the Mavs lead eventually taking a 40-39 advantage due to another Shved three pointer.

With just over five minutes in the quarter, Stiemsma laid out Derek Fisher on a pick and I couldn’t have been happier.  A few seconds later, Stiemsma blocked Fisher’s shot on a drive but the refs made a terrible call and gave Fisher two FT’s to tie the game at 42.  One minute later, Barea drew an offensive foul on Fisher which led to Carlisle replacing him on the floor.  Things got very chippy in the game and it was a good move by the Mavs coach before things got too far out of control.

The Pups finished the half on a small run to take a nine point lead into the locker room, up 54-45.  Here are a few halftime thoughts through my Wolves lens:

  • Ricky Rubio is a golden god
  • I’m slowly talking myself into a Kevin Love trade – more on this later in the week
  • Alexey Shved and Ricky Rubio are golden gods (see what I’m doing here?)

The Wolves and Mavs both opened up the 3rd quarter with the same starting five from the beginning of the night.  Over the first six minutes of the quarter, Minnesota built its lead up to 15 points and it looked like it might get ugly again for the Mavs.  However, instead of quitting, the Mavs put up a quick 7-0 run to cut the lead to 8 points with OJ Mayo guiding much of the run.

Surprise surprise as Ricky returned to the court to close out the 3rd quarter and helped give the Wolves a few easy buckets.  After Marion hit a buzzer beater to end the quarter, the Wolves held an 80-70 lead going into the final twelve minutes … or so you would have thought.

Similar to the Wolves ‘slowly but surely’ run earlier in the game, over the course of the first six minutes of 4th quarter, the Mavs cut into the Wolves lead.  After cutting the lead to one possession a few times, Luke Ridnour provided the answer multiple times; once with a three pointer as the shot clock expired, a second with a running floater.  The incredibly annoying Derek Fisher finally put the Mavs over the top with a four point play, despite the foul call being a “little” questionable.

With two minutes to go, Rubio stepped to the line and missed both FT’s.  On the other end of the court, Ricky was called for a foul on a Derek Fisher jump shot.  Let’s reiterate a “little” questionable on that one as well.  Coming back down the court, Rubio crossed Fisher over and drew his 6th foul and this time, Rubio hit both FT’s to tie the game at 100.

After trading baskets and a lot of confusion between the referees, the Wolves had multiple chances to win the game as the clock wound down.  Rubio missed a three pointer and then Pekovic and AK47 missed a few tip-ins as the clock expired.  Tied at 102, we were heading to overtime.

The Wolves scored the first 10 points of OT led by AK47’s efforts.  That was all she wrote as the Mavs looked gassed, particularly Shawn Marion who had a few awful looking FG attempts.  The Pups were able to grab a few offensive rebounds that prevented the Mavs from making any type of run in the extra frame.

The final score was 114-106 with the Wolves moving their win streak to four games going into a big week, visiting Florida (don’t send anyone home between the Orlando and Miami games please) and then hosting Oklahoma City.

Three Stars of the Game:

  1. Ricky Rubio (come on man!)
  2. Nikola Pekovic
  3. Alexey Shved