Recap: Mavs sprint past T-Wolves for 3rd straight W
Recap: Timberwolves 98 at Mavericks 113
Mavs sprint past T-Wolves for 3rd straight W
Looking to avenge two previous losses to the Timberwolves earlier in the season, the Mavericks also attempted to move to 2-0 on their current four-game homestand with a much-desired victory against a short-handed Minnesota squad that was without coach Rick Adelman (wife’s illness) and All-Star big man Kevin Love (broken right hand). And with ex-Mav J.J. Barea set to suit up against his former team for the first time at the American Airlines Center since leaving the team in free agency following the 2011 NBA championship, there was added motivation for the Dallas team to seize a win on its home floor.
And although Barea would again treat the Dallas fans to a show, the Mavericks (16-23) wouldn’t have any problem running out to a big lead before holding on late for their third straight win, as a total team effort powered the home squad a 113-98 victory.
“We’re getting better. This is three months now, as far as the season, and in order for our team to get to where we want to go we have to play consistent and play well together,” leading scorer O.J. Mayo said of the win.
With the Wolves on the second night of a back-to-back, the Mavericks would come out of the gate aggressively, opening the game on a 12-4 spurt. Meanwhile, four-time All-Star Shawn Marion would struggle after recording a season-high 20 points in the Mavs' 104-83 win over Memphis on Saturday, missing all four of his shot attempts in the opening period.
Still, with Mayo and backcourt mate Darren Collison taking over the scoring responsibilities in the early going, the Mavs cruised into the second quarter with a 26-19 advantage after leading by as much as 11 in the period.
“You know, me and O.J., we’re accustom to playing well with each other. We’ve known each other for a while, so our chemistry with each other is working out really well,” Collison said.
Swishing in a 3-pointer before drawing a charge on Mavs backup guard Rodrigue Beaubois to open the second, Barea began to assert himself at both ends of the floor as the visiting team charged back into the game. The undersized guard then rained in another shot from behind the arc before a driving score the next time down the floor, forcing a timeout by Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle with the Dallas team up just three, 32-29, and 8:51 left in the first half.
Barea and Collison then exchanged scores for their respective teams before Dallas reserve big man Elton Brand took over the game with his interior scoring to lift the Mavericks into the intermission with a 55-45 lead.
Led by Brand’s 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting and Collison’s 10 points on 3-of-6 at the half, the Mavs’ 57.5 percent shooting bettered Minnesota’s 37.8 percent at the other end. And despite getting outrebounded at the midway mark, 25-20, the Mavs raced to the double-digit lead behind an 18-2 margin in fast-break points.
Led by Mayo and Collison, the Mavs quickly pushed the lead to 15 early in the third period while continuing to set the net on fire. Frustration then boiled over for the Wolves as second-year guard Ricky Rubio was assessed a technical foul for arguing with officiating from the bench, while Mayo’s playmaking and scoring took charge of the offensive duties for the Mavs as the lead ballooned to as much as 23 before the fourth quarter came calling with a 91-70 separation on the scoreboard.
With the final verdict thought to no longer be in doubt, the Mavs looked to keep the Timberwolves (16-19) in a large hole down the stretch of the last 12 minutes of action. But Barea continued to lead his team before Rubio’s long deuce brought the Wolves within 11, 97-86, midway through the fourth.
The Mavs would briefly keep the Wolves at bay behind Brand’s mid-range game as the veteran big man put the team on his broad shoulders. But again Barea had an answer, draining a 3 of his own to cut the Mavs’ margin to just eight, 101-93, with 3:14 on the clock.
Still, the Mavs had a response, immediately going to Collison out of a timeout for a dagger 3 to extend the lead before a pair of free throws by Rubio. The Dallas defense did the rest, stringing together stops to hold on for the win before a 3-pointer by Mayo with 41.1 seconds left was proceeded by Collison’s thunderous exclamation point to close the door on the Wolves for the night.
“It’s a three-game streak. It feels good. It’s better than how we were finishing games, but our confidence is growing and we still feel like it could have been five or six games,” Brand said. “We lost some really close games that we feel we could have won against some really good teams. … Now we’re learning how to close these games.”
He added: “We have a lot to still work on, but we figured out a way to pull out the win and that’s what’s important for us.”
Collecting a season-high 33 assists on 46 made field goals, the Mavericks finished with six scorers in double figures led by Collison’s 23 points and nine assists.
“I think now we’re starting to feel more comfortable with the system. We understand what each other brings to the table and now we can just play our game,” Collison said after the Mavs shared the ball en route to the win.
Mayo also dished out a season-high nine assists to go along with seven rebounds, matching Brand’s 20 points while center Chris Kaman, eight-time All-Star Vince Carter and 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki all pitched in 10 points apiece.
“We looked at it as a real important game,” Mayo added. “Obviously they’re ahead of us in playoff standings and it was an opportunity to get three in a row, so we wanted to come out focused and play well. And them being on a back-to-back, we wanted to keep the energy up and play with a high tempo.”
Barea led the Wolves with 21 points off the bench on 6-of-13 shooting and 4-of-7 from behind the arc. But Minnesota’s four scorers in double figures wouldn’t be enough to overcome the Mavs’ 59.7 percent shooting compared to just 41.2 percent for the visitors, despite collecting a 46-33 rebounding margin.
The Mavs also overcame a 19-2 deficit in second-chance points, sprinting to a 31-11 edge in fast-break points, a 44-40 advantage in points in the paint and 22 points off the Wolves’ 15 turnovers, giving the ball up just 10 times themselves.
“We’re playing with more familiarity with one another, with more familiarity with the system. Our reads are better. We’ve been doing some good things in that area. The challenge will be continuing,” Carlisle concluded.
Note: The Mavericks return to action at the American Airlines Center for the third outing of a four-game homestand Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets, catching the Southwest Division rival on the second night of a back-to-back as well after their home matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Mavericks lead the season series 1-0 after a 116-109 road win in Houston on Dec. 8. The game will air locally at 7 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest and nationally on ESPN. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.
“Every game from here on out is a must-win for us,” Collison concluded. “We’ve let a lot of games slip in the past, but the past is the past, and now we’ve got to focus on what’s at task ahead of us.”
“Taking care of home court and starting to win some home games is big for us and taking advantage of the schedule,” Nowitzki added. “Memphis came in here on a back-to-back. Today, Minnesota came in here on a back-to-back. I think Houston is on a back-to-back Wednesday, and those are the games we’ve got to push the ball and really get up and take care of home court.”