The 33-32 Timberwolves took to the road to start a back-to-back in Dallas Wednesday night. The Mavs entered the game at 41-27 and are holding on to a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Coming into Wednesday night’s match-up, the Wolves had taken two of three against the Mavs this season.
Nikola Pekovic was ruled out for the Pups so the starting lineup looked like this: Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love, and Dieng. The Mavs opened up with Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, and Samuel Dalembert.
Here’s a look at how things went down …
Rick Carlisle called an early timeout only 2.5 minutes into the game, as the Wolves scored a few easy baskets and jumped out to a 9-5 lead. That early warning for his team didn’t work out to well as Minnesota continued to jump on their opponent, leading to another timeout with over seven minutes still left in the opening frame. Ricky Rubio led the charge early with an early basket, but also already had 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 block! What?!
At the end of the 1st quarter, the Wolves held an impressive 37-24 lead, receiving big scoring punches from Kevin Love (13 points) and Corey Brewer (11), who may have been looking for a little bit of revenge against his former team. I would also like to point out the solid 11 minutes from the rookie, Dieng. He had 6 rebounds, an assist, a steal, and was 1-1 from the field for his 2 points. I have only been asking for him in the rotation since mid-December. At the very least, this improves the learning curve.
Words cannot describe my excitement with the early stages of tonight’s game. Adelman was giving extended minutes to Dieng and he was highly effective – including a running sky hook in the 2nd quarter that found nothing but the bottom of the net. At the same time, Coach gave JJ Barea minutes at the SG position, allowing him to play with Rubio and not dominate the ball for 22 seconds of the shot clock. I have been “slightly” critical (understatement of the year) of JJ this year, but I don’t mind him at the SG position without the ball in his hands.
With a 50-28 lead things were looking pretty good for the Pups. Therein lies your problem. As with every single good thing that happens to this team, bad things quickly follow … and are usually much worse. The 22 point lead was cut to 3 points with several minutes remaining in the half. Thankfully, the Wolves were able to withstand the stomach punch and built their lead back up to 10. The 54 year old Vince Carter hit a three pointer at the buzzer to cut the Wolves lead to 66-59. Here are a few halftime thoughts:
- Excluding Barea, the Wolves bench was failing big time. Chase Budinger … yikes! 0-2 from the field, he lost a few loose balls and was a team low -9 in his five minutes on the floor. Dante Cunningham was 0-3 from the field and didn’t collect a single rebound or assist either.
- Still leading the Mavs, Dirk Nowitzki went old school against Robbie Hummel and hit a rainbow fade away jumper from about 12 feet. It was a thing of beauty.
The 3rd quarter was highly entertaining basketball, as both teams traded punches. However, with just over 3 minutes to go, Gorgui picked up his fourth foul and had to head to the bench. This was preceded with another strong 8+ minutes from the rookie, who was having a positive impact on both ends of the floor. He left the floor having already collected his second double-double in as many starts and was a team high +15 at the time of his departure.
The Wolves were able to maintain their advantage however, as they took a 94-87 lead into the final quarter. The Mavs were able to hit a buzzer beater for the second quarter in a row, with Brandon Wright hitting a floater to cut the lead to seven.
All that was good in the 3rd quarter quickly fell apart in the 4th as both teams looked incredibly sloppy – missing easy baskets, offensive fouls, etc. With a 12 point lead with about 7 minutes to go, the Wolves let the Mavs back in the game one more time. The Mavs went on a 15-5 run to cut the lead to three points. It got worse for Wolves fans, as Monta Ellis caught fire and gave the Mavs a 113-111 lead with 90 seconds to play. The end of regulation came with the teams tied at 113 thanks to a number of missed jump shots by both teams. What happened to attacking the rim with the game on the line?!
Adelman sent out the same five that ended the game (on a sour note) to start OT. Feel free to try to explain that to me in the comments section below. The Mavs went on a small run and built their largest lead of the game of 5 points. However, the Wolves didn’t quit as Kevin Love drew a 6th foul on Vince Carter and tied the game by hitting three FT’s. Love then hit one of two FT’s to give the Wolves the lead again at 121-120. After a Mas bucket the Wolves force fed Love the ball with under 30 seconds to go and after a handful of “moves”, he somehow snaked his way through and hit a baby hook to give the Wolves the lead for good! Dirk missed a shot and there was a little bit of a scrum for the ball as time expired. No matter! Wolves win 123-122!
Three Stars of the Game
- Ricky Rubio – Triple double alert! 22 points on 8-12 shooting, 15 assists, and 10 rebounds! Throw in 4 steals and a block for the Unicorn!
- Kevin Love – This was all set to be #3’s spot until OT. Love finished with 35 points and owned OT.
- Gorgui Dieng – Finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds, but for some reason completely disappeared from the rotation. He LED the team in the first three quarters, along with Rubio.
- Barea had a very solid first half and then went all Jekyll and Hyde on us again in the second half. I’m glad Adelman didn’t go back to him in OT.
- Dieng had a phenomenal three quarters and earned/deserved time at the end of the game. Hummel somehow got the call, with the Wolves going small and moving Love to the 5. Between this and the decision to DNP-CD Shabazz Muhammad, I still have no idea what is going on in Adelman’s mind.
- All of this is null and void for tonight at least, as the Wolves pull off the minor upset and keep some glimmer of hope alive.