The Timberwolves finished their four game road trip and continued through Texas to take on the Mavericks Monday night. The road trip has not been very kind to our Pups who had lost all three prior games by a combined 52 points. That’s not good. Things didn’t get much better in Dallas …
No surprises in the starting lineups as the Wolves opened up with Ridnour, Shved, Kirilenko, Cunningham, and Pekovic. Dallas countered with Darren Collison, OJ Mayo, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, and Chris Kaman. Rick Adelman remains at home and away from the team, so Terry Porter remains “the man” on the sidelines.
The Wolves got off to another slow start, with the Mavs opening up a 12-4 lead to begin the game. The 1st quarter flew by as the first timeout didn’t come five minutes were left in the quarter. Unfortunately for the Wolves and their fans, the team was down 16-7 and looked more or less lifeless. You could actually see the writing on the wall, this reduced roster was burnt out and it was time to get back to Minnesota. The offense was offensive and the defense was non-existent.
Ricky Rubio checked in with about three minutes left in the quarter and the Wolves down 22-13. Shortly thereafter, JJ checked in and the tempo of the game sped up a bit. Playing against his former team may have had something to do with it, but Barea had two quick assists towards the end of the quarter. At the end of the 1st, the Mavs led 26-19. Had it not been for a tremendous effort by Pekovic (7 & 6), the Wolves may have already been down by 15-20 points.
The start of the 2nd quarter was led by more of JJ Barea. After hitting his second three-pointer and driving through the lane for a layup, Rick Carlisle burned a timeout with his team’s lead down to just three points, 32-29. The remainder of the quarter was pretty entertaining basketball. While the Twolves never fully caught up to the Mavs, they were able to keep it relatively close and get within one bucket a couple of times.
At halftime, the Mavs led 55-45. Here are a couple halftime thoughts through my Wolves lens:
- Dante Cunningham in a situational role is phenomenal. Needing him to play 30 mpg and be consistently productive is not ideal. He finished the first half 3-13 from the floor for 6 points, missing a lot of the patented jump shots that he was making earlier this season.
- Pek (and Barea) kept the Pups close, but he was 3-8 from the charity stripe and this team just can’t afford for him to lose confidence in this part of his game.
- It felt like Rubio was a little more active on both ends of the court this evening. I’m hoping that’s not because the Mavs’ average age is probably 43.
The Wolves couldn’t have possibly started much worse in the 3rd quarter. Missed shots, turnovers, and giving up easy buckets on the other end of the floor. That little hiccup moved the Mavs lead to 15 points and it looked like the route might be on. However, the Wolves tried to fight back and got the lead down to single digits multiple times.
With about five minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the refs stopped the game and called a technical on the Wolves bench. It was actually called on Ricky Rubio who was making hand signs on the bench with Lou Amundson towards the refs. I’ve never seen a technical called on the bench and against a player that wasn’t actually saying/yelling something on the court. The Unicorn’s reputation is crumbling apparently. (That’s a joke by the way.)
Seconds later Alexey Shved hit a three pointer but had it taken away from him as he kicked his legs out and tripped the Mavs defender running at him. The Mavs quickly answered with a mini-run of their own and increased their lead to 83-67, the largest of the game. Actually, things just continued to fall apart after this, with the Mavs increasing their lead to 23 points within minutes. The period mercifully came to an end with the Mavs taking a 91-70 lead into the final frame. 26-29-36 … those are the number of points the Mavs scored per quarter to that point in the game. Yikes!
The Wolves tried to make things interesting in the first six minutes of the final quarter but would wind up doing something to kill momentum. Pups cut the lead to 13 and then Stiemsma threw a bounce pass to DWill that was too low and went out of bounds. Minutes later the Pups cut the lead to 10 and Cunningham missed another jumper, which was too far beyond his normal range. Seconds later, the Mavs get an easy bucket to push it back to 12.
With two minutes to go and down by 9, the Wolves had multiple chances around the rim and no one could get the ball through the hoop. Pekovic and Kirilenko both missed in the paint and once again, the Mavs were able to answer. While the Wolves made it exciting, they fell for the fourth straight time and wound up winless on the road trip. Final score: Dallas 113, Minnesota 98.
Keys of the Game
- Team Defense – The Twolves looked incredibly slow in the first half and gave up way too many points in transition. The latter continued in the second half and ruined just about any chance the team had at completing the comeback.
- Guard Play – To say the Wolves need help here would be quite the understatement. Ridnour and Shved combined for 14 points on 4-16 shooting and 5 assists. Collison and Mayo combined for 43 points, 18 assists, and 9 rebounds. Ouch.
Three Stars of the Game
- OJ Mayo – 20 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds. Throw in a +30 for the evening and he makes it hard to forget that Kahn and company didn’t even try to sign this guy this past offseason.
- Darren Collison – Not find behind his backcourt mate, Collison finished with 23 points and 9 assists. He was +27 on the night and a perfect 8-8 from the line to boot.
- JJ Barea – I’m putting Barea just above Elton Brand’s 20 & 6 (no, seriously) and Pek’s 20 & 12 (b/c of Brand’s numbers and his missed FT’s) here. Barea’s play kept this game interesting and/or brought the Wolves within some semblance of striking distance multiple times.
The Pups are off for two nights and need this time to recover for Thursday night’s game on TNT against the LA Clippers.