Recap: Wolves outlast Mavs in OT, ends winless road trip
Earl K. Sneed reports from Minneapolis and recaps the Dallas Mavericks' overtime loss to the Timberwolves as point guard Ricky Rubio made his season debut and helped the Mavs finish winless on their road trip.
Recap: Mavericks 106 at Timberwolves 114
Wolves outlast Mavs in OT, ends winless road trip
Already trying to bounce back from a 117-115 double-overtime loss in Boston on Wednesday and a 95-74 blowout defeat in Toronto Friday night to begin their three-game road trip, the Mavericks entered the Target Center hoping to avenge a 90-82 home loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 12 when they were without All-Star big man Kevin Love and second-year standout Ricky Rubio. And with Love sidelined yet again due to flu-like symptoms, more fuel was added to the fire as the Mavs attempted to finish their road trip by ending Minnesota’s three-game winning streak in Rubio’s season debut.
“It’s certainly going to add juice to the environment,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said as the visiting team tried to quiet an eager crowd. “We understand that and we’re going to have to be ready.”
The coach then led his team onto the court in search of a much-needed road win. And with 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki (right knee surgery) missing his 24th game to start the season, the Mavs tried to ruin Rubio’s return.
But despite a valiant effort that saw the Mavericks (11-13) fight back from 15 down to force the game into overtime, the team wouldn’t have anything left in the extra period. And as a result, the Mavs couldn’t avoid a disappointing sweep of their road trip, heading back to Dallas after a 114-106 overtime loss.
“We ran out of juice,” four-time All-Star Shawn Marion admitted after his team faded in the overtime period. “But the way we started the game I think we should have never been in that position.”
With Rubio coming off the Wolves’ bench, Carlisle and the Mavericks attempted to get off to a fast start in the opening quarter. Thanks to 38-year-old veteran point guard Derek Fisher and his 25-year-old backcourt mate, leading scorer O.J. Mayo, the Mavs would do just that.
With Fisher and Mayo leading the way, the visiting team jumped out to a quick double-digit advantage. The Mavs also began a new streak with Mayo’s pull-up 3-pointer, after their NBA record 1,108-game stretch with at least one made 3 came to an end Friday night in Toronto with a 0-for-13 showing from behind the arc.
Center Chris Kaman would take it from there, scoring eight points in the period and quieting the crowd as Rubio came in with 1:47 left in the quarter before the Mavs entered the second stanza with a 32-22 lead.
“I think we came out and had them on their heels,” Marion continued. “We had them right where we wanted to, and then it seemed like we started turning the ball over again. You know, turnovers led to easy buckets for them, got the crowd going and then we couldn’t stop them.”
After the Mavs led by as much as 13 in the first 12 minutes of play, Rubio would start to make his mark on the game with his playmaking. The Timberwolves (12-9) also caught fire from behind the arc, as Alexey Shved’s 3-pointer gave the home squad a 40-39 edge and forced a timeout by Carlisle with 5:51 left in the half.
The Wolves then finished the half on an 8-0 run, taking a 54-45 advantage into the intermission.
With Shved hitting five of his six shots and going 3-for-3 from 3-point range for 15 points at the midway mark, the Mavs found themselves outshot through the first 24 minutes of action, 46.5 percent to 41 percent. Minnesota also converted Dallas’ 11 turnovers into 11 points in the first two quarters, in addition to a 24-12 advantage in points in the paint.
After Shved led the Wolves’ scoring charge from the outside in the first half, Nikola Pekovic took over those duties in the interior to start the third period as Minnesota surged ahead by double digits. Meanwhile, despite the best efforts of Marion, the Mavericks fell behind by as much as 15, until the versatile forward’s buzzer-beating jumper to cut the disadvantage to 80-70 entering the final 12 minutes of regulation.
Marion’s shot to close the third seemingly gave the Mavs life as they inched to within single digits early in the fourth period. The Dallas team then drew even closer to within four on big man Elton Brand’s jumper to make it an 87-83 score. Again, the Wolves tried to respond, however, with a 3-pointer by Luke Ridnour. But triples by Fisher and sixth man Vince Carter kept the Mavs within an arm’s reach, before Dominique Jones swished in two free throws to make it just a three-point game, 93-90, with 4:47 remaining.
Ridnour again stepped up, scoring immediately after Brand made it a one-point game with a fadeaway. The Mavs then lost Carter for the night with 3:11 left after he committed his sixth foul on an attacking Shved. Still, with Fisher draining a 3 from the wing while Rubio committed a crucial foul, the Mavs emerged with a 98-96 lead after the four-point play with 2:50 on the clock.
After Andrei Kirilenko tied the game at the foul line, Rubio would pave the way for the Mavs to take a two-point lead once again with 1:48 left after missing a pair at the charity strip before sending Fisher to the line. But after Fisher gave the Mavs the slight edge, he would be forced to sit seven seconds later following his sixth and final foul, which allowed Rubio to tie the game himself.
“There wasn’t a lot of contact there, but some calls go your way and some calls don’t,” Fisher said of the pivotal sequence. “I mean, there were a couple of other calls earlier in the game that were more decisive that probably costed me as far as fouling out, but that’s a part of the game and we had opportunities to get this game. Of course, I wish I still could have been out there.”
The Mavs weren’t done yet, however, with a score by Brand following a goaltending call to give the squad the edge yet again with 1:22 remaining. But Pekovic’s score with 49.6 ticks left would once again even things as Rubio collected his ninth assist of the night, before Mayo drove to the hoop and leaned back for a fadeaway that drew iron as the Wolves secured the rebound and called timeout with 34.1 seconds still on the clock.
Minnesota then had four opportunities to win it in the final seconds but misfired from deep and then from in close before Brand secured the defensive board to send the game into overtime.
Beginning the extra period with a slam by Shved, the Wolves began to pull away after Pekovic found a cutting Kirilenko for a three-point play over Marion to put Minnesota up 109-102 with 3:18 left for the Mavs to respond. Pekovic then did the honors of putting the game away with an and-one score inside over Dominique Jones to go up 10 with 2:32 left.
And with the final margin all that was left to be determined, ex-Mav J.J. Barea added the last padding at the foul line.
“It’s too bad. We really fought hard to give ourselves a chance and it’s just disappointing,” Carlisle said of his team’s final demise.
“They made plays and we didn’t,” Mayo added. “They got positive possessions and we didn’t. It’s sort of a moral victory, but I thought the fourth quarter we showed how we’re capable of playing. We took care of the ball, got what we wanted, so I think we need to watch that fourth quarter and understand we can play like that. We’ve just got to go out there and do it.”
With Mayo — on 7-of-16 shooting and 2-of-3 from behind the arc — and Fisher — on 5-of-8 from the field and 3-of-5 from 3-point range — both finishing with 20 points, five Mavs scored in double figures in a losing cause. Off the bench, Brand added 15 points, while Marion collected a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Kaman, meanwhile, pitched in 11 points and six rebounds in 26 minutes.
“I think our effort was much better tonight than it was last night (in Toronto) as a group. On the back of a third game in four nights and down by 12 or 14, it would have been easy for us to fold the tent up and say, ‘We’ll get it next time.’ But I thought the team showed a lot of character and mental toughness by fighting back into this game and having a chance to win. But there’s no moral victories and this is another unfortunate loss for us,” Fisher concluded.
Leading six Wolves in double figures was Pekovic, who finished with 21 points and nine rebounds. Meanwhile, Rubio returned to action for the first time since tearing ligaments in his left knee in March, scoring eight points, dishing out nine assists and grabbing four rebounds in 18 minutes of action.
“He gave them a little lift,” Marion said of the budding star. “He gave them some fancy passes and he’s a very interesting player. His first game back, you know, he was gonna be a little rusty, but he can pass that ball.”
“Well, he fouled out our hottest player on a hand-check call late in the game, so that was a big impact regardless of what else happened,” Carlisle said of Rubio’s influence on the game. “He’s a terrific player and he played well. You couldn’t tell he’s been out for a year, so give him credit.”
Although the Wolves were outshot by the Mavs, 46.4 percent to 43.6 percent, they did finish with a 48-41 rebounding advantage and 50-36 margin in points in the paint. Minnesota also overcame 16 turnovers for 22 Dallas points by forcing 20 giveaways for the Mavericks, which led to 18 points at the other end.
The Mavericks will now return home, taking Sunday off before getting in a practice day. They’ll then host the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night, trying to avenge a 100-98 defeat in Philly on Nov. 27. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.
“Yeah, 0-3 is not what we planned for and it’s very disappointing, but we’ve got to regroup when we get home,” Carlisle said while quickly putting the winless road trip out of his mind. “We’ve got some home games coming up and they’re very important. We’ve got one quality day of practice and we’ve got to get a lot out of that. And we’ve got to regroup and keep going.”