Recap: Timberwolves 90 at Mavericks 82; T-Wolves scratch through Mavs for third straight L
Earl K. Sneed recaps Monday night's home loss for the Dallas Mavericks against the Minnesota Timberwolves, as the Mavs couldn't avoid a third straight defeat despite playing in front of their home crowd.
Recap: Timberwolves 90 at Mavericks 82;
T-Wolves scratch through Mavs for third straight L
DALLAS — Just 48 hours after watching his team’s longest winning streak over an opponent fall by the wayside, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and his players returned to their home hardwood hoping to improve upon a 3-0 record at the American Airlines Center.
Falling to back-to-back losses on the road in New York and Charlotte and seeing a 16-game winning streak over the young Bobcats’ franchise snapped with a 101-97 overtime loss on Saturday night, Carlisle confessed that his young and short-handed squad still has room for growth while playing without 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki (right knee surgery) and four-time All-Star Shawn Marion (sprained left MCL).
Still, with the Mavs back on their home floor and honoring Veterans Day with a “Military Appreciation Day” celebration, the coach understood it was time to move forward against a banged-up Minnesota Timberwolves team.
“It’s not just the players, it’s all of us. We all own it when stuff like that happens,” Carlisle said of the loss in Charlotte after seeing a four-point lead with 26.6 seconds remaining in regulation evaporate. “It’s painful to go through something like that, but you’ve gotta study it, understand the situations better and get ready for the next one, because they usually come in waves.”
The wave would continue to stream against the Mavericks on Monday night.
Without their offensive and defensive leaders, the Dallas team couldn’t avoid a third straight loss, despite the absences of All-Star big man Kevin Love (broken hand), point guard Ricky Rubio (torn ACL) and ex-Mav J.J. Barea (sprained foot). And with Carlisle unable to stick around to hear the final buzzer after a fourth quarter ejection, the Mavericks’ three-game home winning streak came to an end following a 90-82 defeat.
“Any team that you have a home-court advantage on, you want to take care of that. But, then again, any team in the NBA can win. We’re professionals for a reason,” point guard Darren Collison said after the loss. “And, you know, you’ve gotta give Minnesota credit. They played a solid game, so this is not like a missed opportunity. Any team can win, but it’s how you win and how you lose sometimes, and I don’t think we’re satisfied with our effort.”
Carlisle continued to stick with the same starting lineup of Collison, 2-guard O.J. Mayo, rookie small forward Jae Crowder, veteran power forward Elton Brand and center Brandan Wright. But, as big man Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko asserted themselves early, it wouldn’t take long for the Mavs to find themselves in an early double-digit hole.
And after trailing by as much as 10 in the opening period, the Mavs faced a 25-17 deficit following the first 12 minutes of play, connecting on just 7-of-23 from the field.
Things would get worse before they got better to start the second stanza, as the disadvantage grew to 12 prior to former United States Air Force staff sergeant Bernard James’ hustle, offensive rebound and putback to help the Mavericks (4-4) inch back within single digits. But after the ex-military vet and 27-year-old rookie brought the Mavericks to within three, Pekovic went back to work inside, helping to extend Minnesota’s advantage back out to double digits.
“Bernard James coming off the bench and gave us some energy. Some guys came off the bench good and gave us some energy, but we just have to have that energy all game,” Brand admitted.
The visiting Timberwolves (5-2) then went into the locker room with a 45-39 advantage, thanks to 25 combined points from Pekovic and Kirilenko.
Outshooting the Mavs through two quarters, 42.1 percent to 34.9 percent, the Timberwolves also controlled the glass through the first 24 minutes of action, carrying a 27-20 rebounding advantage into the second half.
“I just know I’ve gotta coach these guys harder and keep getting them better,” Carlisle explained in regard to the sluggish first half. “It’s tough. We got carved up in the first half. You know, our effort wasn’t where it needed to be, and then I thought we tried hard in the second half and the results were still not good. And so, you know, it’s tough right now. We’ve gotta just keep at it.”
Coming out of the intermission, an aggressive Collison would begin to give Mayo a helping hand on the offensive end. Defensively, however, the Mavs continued to have a tough time containing Pekovic in the interior. And although Pekovic would be forced to sit for the rest of the night with a sprained left ankle, while center Chris Kaman and sixth man Vince Carter got into the mix for Dallas on the offensive end of the floor, the Mavs still trailed, 66-58, entering the final period.
Hoping to muster up a comeback in the final 12 minutes, Carlisle turned the game back over to his starting backcourt of Collison and Mayo. But, once Alexey Shved found a cutting Kirilenko, Carlisle was forced to call timeout with 7:22 remaining after his team fell down by 11, 74-63.
“We couldn’t contain the ball,” Mayo said of the team’s perimeter defense. “They got into the lane whenever they wanted to make plays and we got beat up pretty bad in pick-and-roll defense, as far as on the guards. You know, the bigs did their jobs, we’ve just gotta continue fighting over them.”
Still, with Mayo draining a pull-up jumper before Collison’s and-one score midway through the period, the Mavs remained in the game before a questionable personal foul by Mayo on Shved with 5:00 remaining led to back-to-back technical foul calls on Carlisle to earn the coach an early exit.
Although their intensity level would pick up without their coach, led by Collison and Mayo, the Mavs wouldn’t recover down the stretch. And despite competing and fighting till the final buzzer, the Mavs would eventually fall to defeat by eight.
Finishing the night 5-of-10 from the field and 11-of-12 at the foul line, Collison totaled 21 points and five assists in a losing cause. Meanwhile, Mayo’s streak of five straight games with at least 22 points came to an end, finishing with 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting.
Kaman added 12 points off the bench to make it three Mavs in double figures.
At the other end of the floor, Pekovic led five Timberwolves in double figures with 20 points before going out with the ankle injury. Minnesota also outshot the home team, 46.2 percent to 36.3 percent, as the Mavs totaled just 10 turnovers compared to their opponents’ 18 giveaways but lost the rebounding battle, 49-35.
“We’re giving up too much dribble penetration and we’re not rebounding,” Carlisle explained. “That’s the thing that’s killing us. If we can get stops and rebound, our offense will pick up.”
“We’re not as good as we seemed earlier and we’re not as bad as we seem right now,” Brand added. “You know, early on, we were playing at a fast pace and getting stops, but it was kind of fool’s gold, because we weren't rebounding and we weren’t doing certain things that you have to do to beat elite teams. We were beating some pretty good teams, but after watching the tape we saw a lot of mistakes and they’re kind of coming back to haunt us right now.”
The Mavs will now return to the practice court before hosting the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night. That game will air locally at 7:30 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest. Tickets for the game remain available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-6287 or by visiting Mavs.com.
“It’s not the end of the world, you know. But, at the same time, we need to get back to continuing to get better. We can’t stay the same,” Mayo concluded. “We beat four teams that we feel we were supposed to beat, and we lost some games we feel we should have won but we let them slip away. So, we’ve gotta just get back to the drawing board and get better.”