GameDay Live Blog: Wolves (3-2) vs. Mavericks (3-2) | Nov. 8, 2013
GameDay Live Blog: Wolves (3-2) vs. Mavericks (3-2)
Final: That's the ballgame, folks. The Kevins closed this one out in clutch fashion, and Minnesota wins 116-108. Love finished with 32 points, 15 boards and eight assists. Kevin Marin had 30 points and five rebounds on 10-of-19 shooting. Brewer added 17 and Pek added 15. Much more to come on Timberwolves.com, so stay tuned. MIN 116, DAL 108
Q4 1:13: Kevin Love...I mean the Wolves are pulling away here late in the fourth. Love just drained a LONG 3 pointer from the wing and followed it up with a fade-away from the baseline that puts the Wolves up eight. He's got 32 tonight. MIn 110, DAL 102
Q4 2:24: Just a quick update here. Love with 27 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists as Minnesota holds a three-point lead. MIN 105, DAL 102
Q4 6:02: This one is going to come down to the final possessions, it appears. Blair is coming alive here with eight points for Dallas, and the Wolves are about to come back with Rubio-Martin-Brewer-DC-Love on the court. MIN 99, DAL 95
Q4 7:30: Minnesota is trying to create separation here, but the Mavs are keeping this one close as we near the midway point of the fourth. Nowitzki hit a classic Dirk turnaround, fade-away J moments ago, and Dallas is finding other ways to manufacture points on the offensive end. Calderon has 18, Ellis has 17, Dirk has 14, Crowder has 12 and Marion has 10. MIN 95, DAL 91
End Q3: Shawn Marion's steal and basket cut the Wolves' lead to one at 80-79, but a 3-pointer by J.J. Barea and a lay-up by Brewer pushed the lead back up to six. Dallas answered with a late put-back to make it a four-point game heading into the fourth. Love with 27 points, 14 boards and seven assists, Martin with 20 and Brewer with 17. MIN 85, DAL 81
Q3 2:54: Jose Calderon answers back with back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the Wolves lead back to five. Calderon is 5-of-7 from 3-point range tonight, and he's getting too many wide open looks. MIN 77, DAL 72
Q3 5:02: Well that escalated quickly. The Wolves are currently on a 16-4 run capped by a Martin 3-pointer in transition. Nice pass from Brewer finding Martin wide open. MIN 77, DAL 66
Q3 7:36: Great play by Rubio finding Pek under the basket for two as the Wolves went on a 5-0 run to take a 66-62 lead midway through the third. Kevin Martin already has five points this quarter, including a 3-pointer a couple seconds ago, and Kevin Love continues to do his thing. He's got 21 points, 14 boards and seven assists. Still on that triple-double watch. MIN 66, DAL 62
Halftime: Huge swing of momentum there. Down three, Mavs get a steal and draw a foul sending Jae Crowder to the line with 4 seconds left. He missed both free throws, Love grabs the rebound and sends an outlet pass to Brewer for the jam with 0.4 seconds left. That's a four-point swing that puts the Wolves down 1 headed into halftime. Love has 17 points, 12 boards and seven assists. Brew has 15 points, Martin has nine, Pek has seven. DAL 56, MIN 55
Q2 2:31: Two quick things: One, Kevin Martin just drained a 3 off an offensive rebound by DC that pulled the Wolves back to within 50-49. Two, Love has his double-double for the night with 15 points, 10 boards (and six assists) with time to spare in the second quarter. DAL 50, MIN 49
Q2 5:25: Minnesota just went back to essentially their starting five midway through the second (with the exception of Pek out, Dante in). This is a problem for the Wolves, because right now we're not seeing a lot of productivity from the bench. The starters are logging a lot of minutes, and that's going to add up. All five starters played at least 33 minutes on Wednesday night. Having some starters play in upwards of 35 minutes is fine, but to have all five do it consistently becomes a tiresome proposition. DAL 42, MIN 39
Q2 8:58: The Mavs grabbed their first lead of the night by snagging a 3-point play, but Pekovic tied the game back up with a pair of free throws of his own. Wolves' second unit trying to keep this one close as the starters rest here in the second. That was the trouble during the Warriors game on Wednesday night. Starters leave up six, come back down six. MIN 32, DAL 32
End Q1: Corey Brewer hit a corner 3 with six seconds left in the quarter to help push Minnesota's lead back up to four as we star the second. Brewer has been consistently impressive in his first week and a half back with the Wolves, and it's in part due to his ability to push the pace, play strong defense and hit the corner 3 just enough to keep teams honest. There was a lot of talk about how Brewer's shot would look when he returned, and so far he's done a pretty serviceable job. He's got 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the first. MIN 28, DAL 24
Q1 2:42: The Mavs just went on a 10-2 run cut the Wolves' once 10-point lead down to two. Minnesota's high-percentage shots have dwindled here, particularly on the fast break, and that's a product of Dallas getting back on defense. We're going to see J.J. Barea, Alexey Shved and Dante Cunningham enter the game here out of the timeout. MIN 23, DAL 21
Q1 6:08: You've gotta like what you're seeing out of the Wolves right now. They're shooting 64 percent, and getting a ton of high-percentage shots thanks in part to their fast breaks. Love has nine points, five boards, three assists and is shooting 4-of-5 so far. We're only six minutes in. MIN 18, DAL 9
Q1 8:12: The Mavs talked all day about Kevin Love's outlet passing and how impressed they are with the frequency he's hitting his teammates in stride on the fast break. So what does Love do? In the first four minutes, he hits Corey Brewer in stride Peyton Manning-style for a pair of transition baskets. Love also has seven points two assists and three boards through four minutes. MIN 12, DAL 4
Mavericks: PG-Jose CAlderon, SG-Monta Ellis, SF-Shawn Marion, PF-Dirk Nowitzki, C-Samuel Dalembert
Wolves: PG-Ricky Rubio, SG-Kevin Martin, SF-Corey Brewer, PF-Kevin Love, C-Nikola Pekovic
...Also, I love it when they play the Dallas TV theme song during the Mavericks' starting line up. Love it. The Ewings would be proud.
6:53 PM: The Wolves just announced Derrick Williams won't play due to back spasms tonight.
6:51 PM: I can confirm Mark Cuban is in the house tonight. Just for the record.
6:25 PM: Caught up with Wayne Ellington in the Mavericks' locker room before the game to talk about how he's settling in with the Mavericks and his journey since leaving Minnesota after the 2011-12 season. Ellington was sent to Memphis as part of the deal that brought Dante Cunningham to the Wolves, then was moved to Cleveland midway through last year before landing in Dallas this offseason.
Now, he's one of the new faces in the Mavs' back court along with the likes of Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis, and he said the pieces are coming together despite a lot of change around the team's core of Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion.
"It's all coming together great—it's a marathon, it's a process," Ellington said. "It's still really, really, really early. Everybody is just doing their best to work together, but at the end of the day you're looking for our best product. I felt like we all got the right pieces to do it."
Ellington said since he left Minnesota he's evolved his shot and felt like the game has slowed down a bit. Now, he's seeing things that he might not have seen in play during his first few years in the NBA. Ellington was drafted by Minnesota in 2009 and spent three years with the Timberwolves, and he said he really enjoyed his time in the Twin Cities.
"Minneapolis is a great city man," Ellington said. "They got some great things coming here for this organization, and I hope the best for them."
Ellington said he caught up with some familiar faces during the day here at Target Center, including former teammate Corey Brewer (who was his teammate for his first season and a half in Minnesota), and David Adelman (the now-Wolves assistant coach who was a player development coach in the 2011-12 season).
Ellington said he and Brewer talked about how crazy it was that Brewer made a couple pit stops around the league before returning to the Wolves this year, and how Brewer said he's enjoying his time back in town. And with Adelman, Ellington said they talked about how the team is currently healthy and how much that is helping.
With Vince Carter out due to suspension, Ellington is one of the guys likely to gain minutes in the Mavs' wing rotation tonight. This is an opportunity for Ellington to solidify a more permanent spot in the rotation. He's currently playing about 11.5 minutes per night.
"I'm just trying to adjust and, you know, finding where I fit in," Ellington said. "And I'm just getting ready for the long haul, the marathon, and just staying ready."
4:35 PM: In 2-plus years covering the Timberwolves, I never heard Kevin Love make a reference to playing football before today. At today's shootaround, Love fielded a question about his outlet passing joked if it wasn't for a parental decision from his past, he might have tried out a different sport back in the day.
"I said the name Peyton Manning the other night, but it was only because my parents never let me play football growing up," Love said. "So you know, out here is my football."
That's particularly funny today, because about a half hour before that interview took place Mavs coach Rick Carlisle was throwing around football-like superlatives about Love's outlet passing. To Carlisle, it's a Manning-like result.
"The guy can throw a chest pass 100 yards," Carlisle said. "I mean, he should be an NFL quarterback—he could throw chest passes to the receivers."
All kidding aside, Love first showcased his outlet passing inside Target Center when his high school team traveled from Oregon to play in the Timberwolves Shootout. This year, he's showcasing that outlet passing and springing the Wolves on the fast break, but he's also facilitating in the half court. It's why his assists have jumped so far this year to 4.4, well above his previous high of 2.5 per night. He's finding Nikola Pekovic down low or swinging the ball around to Ricky Rubio to continue the set or to Kevin Martin for the jumper.
But in transition is where he's making his biggest wow-factor impact.
"I remember [Hall of Famer] Wes Unseld," Carlisle said. "Unfortunately, that's how old I am, and I mean Love is an equal to him in terms of his ability to outlet the ball quickly. it's a phenomenal skill."
So where does that outlet passing come from?
"It's funny, when I was growing up I played three grades up with my brother an I couldn't, I wasn't strong enough to get the ball to the hoop so I had to chest pass it," Love said. "So that's how that came about. I'd make the shot at a very, very high rate, so that's how that touch kind of came about. And another reason is, yeah, my parents never let me play football. They said basketball's where you gotta get the job done. And I guess they were right."
3:40 PM: Rick Carlisle was asked this morning if, given how much chaos J.J. Barea caused opponents during his time with the Mavericks, he gets headaches when he thinks about the next time he’ll face Barea as an opponent.
“He was a headache when we had him, too,” Carlisle joked.
But all kidding aside, the Mavs’ coach has great respect for Barea and credits him with being a big part of the 2011 championship run. Barea showcased his fearless driving ability during those playoffs, and he also caused much disruption in opponents’ back courts during that stretch.
His play parlayed him finding a bigger contract coming out of the 2011-12 lockout with Minnesota, and Wolves fans have gotten to know the type of intensity Barea brings to the floor every night.
It’s something Carlisle greatly respects.
“You know, the four years with him were great years for me and great years for our club,” Carlisle said. “I’m glad he’s here in a good situation. I’m glad he’s playing well, but we’ve got to try to make it tough for him tonight.”
Those seasons in Dallas were special for Barea, too. He said it will always be a special team in his head and in his heart, and he still has close friends related to that team.
Barea also said his situation in Minnesota is different. With Dallas, it was a veteran team. Here, it’s a young squad trying to take the next step. The biggest similarity is probably at the power forward position, he said.
“The only thing I can say is Kevin Love and Dirk [Nowitzki],” Barea said. “Kevin is going through that stage where he could be a superstar like that. He could carry a team. But other than that, we’re a young team.”
Still, Barea said he sees the potential.
“They're doing a great job. The owner, Flip and the coaches are putting the players in great situations,” Barea said. “They're bringing in good players. So yeah, we've just got to keep getting better and see what happens.”
Barea isn’t the only Wolves player who was on that 2011 Mavs roster. Corey Brewer landed in Dallas midway through that season and was on the playoff roster. He said he learned a lot from that veteran group about how to pay attention to details and to always be prepared.
“You have to be ready no matter what,” Brewer said. “You’ve got to work your butt off and be ready. A guy like Peja [Stojakovic], he came in late in the year and helped us win a bunch of games in the playoffs. You’ve always got to be ready.”
That half-season Brewer had in Dallas was a springboard for him. After winning that ring, he came out of the lockout and headed to Denver where he really found his game. That turned into his present situation back in Minnesota. Things have come full circle—being back with the team that drafted him—and he’s now looking to add another ring to the one in Dallas and the two he earned at the University of Florida.
“I’m just happy I had the chance to go there,” Brewer said. “Win a championship, play with some great guys and put me in a great situation.”
Pregame 3:00 PM: Welcome to Target Center as we get set for tonight’s matchup against the Dallas Mavericks. Tip is set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM. This is an important matchup—even though it’s six games into the season—because the Wolves are facing a Mavericks team that will likely be in the conversation for the seventh and eighth spots in the West alongside the Timberwolves. You need to win these types of games at home, and the Wolves know it.
“This is another team in the West that they’re 3-2 right now, and we look at them like they’re in front of us,” Kevin Love said. “And they’re a team that we need to beat. We have to have a good showing tonight.”
Dallas is a team that likes to force the tempo and play fast. So far this year, they’ve been able to start strong and finish strong, and that’s important to note because the Wolves have shown flashes of doing both—just not consistently. It’s important tonight to get going and play a solid, 48-minute game against this team. If Minnesota does that and picks up a win, not only will it be a crucial head-to-head victory against a like opponent but it will also help springboard them into their weekend back-to-backs against the Lakers and Clippers on the West Coast.
Tonight the Mavs will not have Vince Carter, as he is sitting out a one-game suspension due to an elbow he threw on Thunder rookie Steven Adams this week. That definitely changes the Mavericks’ rotation on the wing, and it will open up more minutes for guys like Jae Crowder, Wayne Ellington and Ricky Ledo.
A contrite Carter said at shootaround it’s important for the Mavericks to keep a focused game plan, because when the Wolves get the energy going at home it’s tough to bounce back. He said Dallas can’t turn the ball over like they did in Oklahoma City (21 turnovers leading to 23 Thunder points), and he wishes he could be able to help his team tonight.
“You’d like to take it back, but you can’t,” he said.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said the Wolves will be a challenge in that department because they play quick, get out in transition and force turnovers.
“Our transition D has to be better,” Carlisle said. “These guys tonight, from a pace standpoint, they get out as fast as anybody I’ve seen. And they’re also I believe No. 1 or 2 in steals, so it’s another challenge ball-security night and transition defense night.”
For the Wolves, meanwhile, this is a Mavericks team with a completely new look. Yes, they still have Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion, but the back court made up of Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis is a new dynamic. Calderon and Ellis are not new faces—they’ve been around the league long enough for guys like Kevin Martin, J.J. Barea and Ricky Rubio to know their tendencies. But they haven’t seen them together yet.
“They’re so dynamic,” Martin said. “Monta slashing to get to the hoop, Jose being able to knock down the 3. They’re a pretty good back court.”
Love said the team still rolls through Nowitzki, so being able to shut him down or contain him will be a major factor in containing this Mavericks team.
“We’re going to have to bring it tonight,” Love said.
Dallas comes in with wins over the Hawks, Grizzlies and Lakers. They’re learning to work together on the fly, but Calderon said the veteran presence has been important in forming this team’s identity early.
“We’re trying to get everybody in the system,” Calderon said. “The main core, they were already here, so getting everybody all together in that system sooner than later [is important].”
More to come throughout the day, so stay tuned right here on Timberwolves.com. In the meantime, here are some pregame notes: