Wolves' Shooting Slump Helps Mavs To 100-77 Win

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

Email / Twitter

The Timberwolves know what their biggest challenge has been this year. The inconsistency in their field goal percentage, particularly from beyond the arc, has been a big problem over the past two months—particularly during a stretch in which their once Top 5 defense has fatigued due to injuries.

Identifying the problem is easy. Finding a solution is another matter.

“In practice we make shots,” Wolves guard Ricky Rubio said. “We just have to be more focused in the games and try to hit those shots.”

That was not the case on Sunday at Target Center, where the Wolves went cold in the second half and dropped a 100-77 matchup with the Dallas Mavericks. With the victory the Mavs avoided losing their season series with the Wolves, winning their second straight after Minnesota took the first two tilts of the season.

Box Scores and GalleryBox Score Gallery

Wolves vs. Mavericks

And they did it with consistency on the offensive end, something the Wolves struggled to find.

The Wolves are shooting 29.3 percent from 3-point range this season, and that number has dropped to 22.0 percent over their last three games. On Sunday at Target Center, Minnesota finished 2-for-18 from beyond the arc. That just so happened to coincide with an 8-for-21 effort from the Mavs, led by the ageless Vince Carter’s 4-of-5 surge from distance.

Carter was the stabilizing force for Dallas early in the contest when the game was still very much in doubt. His pair of threes early in the second quarter helped the Mavericks extend their one-point lead all the way to 17 just 3 ½ minutes into the frame as Dallas rallied off a 20-3 run to start the frame.

Dallas shot 66 percent in the quarter, led by Carter’s 4-of-5 shooting.

“His 3-ball looks automatic,” Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “He’s got the high arc on it. It looks easy. He can shoot deep. Every time he shoots it right now, it feels like it’s going in. He’s in great rhythm.”

Carter finished with 22 points to lead all scorers, and Nowitzki added 16 as the two veterans led the way for much of the night.

The Wolves, on the other hand, got the majority of their production from their starting front court. Derrick Williams led the way again with 18 points and nine boards, shaking off an 0-for-4 start from the field and putting together his eighth straight double-digit scoring game and 11th in his last 12 games.

J.J. Barea provided a spark off the bench with 16 points, but he along with the rest of the Wolves squad couldn’t get the three ball working. The team as a whole finished 36.4 percent from the floor. Barea said the way the Mavs were shooting Minnesota needed to put together an almost perfect game, and it just didn’t happen on this night.

“Tonight we just didn’t have it,” Barea said. “We are a young team, but we’re not making shots, we’re not getting back on defense. You know it was a tough night for us.”

Coach Rick Adelman said it doesn’t matter how good a team’s defense is—in this league, you need to make shots. And the perplexing thing is most teams have trouble with the defensive side of things. This Wolves club, however, is having trouble putting 48 minutes together in which they can keep the offense rolling.

“You can defend the hell out of people, but if you can’t make shots in this league you’re in trouble,” Adelman said. “That’s what’s happening to us. Game after game, we just really struggle to put the ball in the basket. I know the injuries are part of it, but you have to find a way to get guys better shots.”

Mickael Gelabale stepped up for the second straight night, scoring 13 on the night. Greg Stiemsma added 10. Rubio and Luke Ridnour each had seven points and five assists.

Rubio said there is no blame, no excuses. The team needs to find a way to hit shots for a full 48 minutes, and it’s on each of them individually to make it happen.

“They were hitting shots and on the other side we were missing a lot of open shots,” Rubio said. “We just have to improve and get better and try to fight every night. Today, we just didn’t fight at all.”

Rubio Postgame Interview

Leader of the Pack: Derrick Williams

Williams led the team in scoring and rebounding, netting 18 points and grabbing nine boards. He was especially hot in the first quarter, logging nine of his points and five of his rebounds. Williams came into tonight averaging 17.3 points and 8.7 rebounds in his last 14 games, and his 19.3 points and 8.0 rebounds per game this month make up by far the best month of his career. He was one board shy of his eighth double-double of the season.

Play of the Game

Early on in the contest, Rubio sent a full-court pass in transition to Derrick Williams in the paint. Williams sensed Gelabale cutting baseline, and he gave a no-look dish to his teammate who scored and boosted the lead to 6-2. It was a pretty play that gave the Wolves their biggest lead of the night.

Numbers Game

  • The Mavs used a 20-3 run in the second quarter to build a significant lead, helping them go into half up by 12.

  • Making his fifth consecutive start in place of Nikola Pekovic, Wolves center Greg Stiemsma just missed his first career double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds. Tonight was his fifth double-digit scoring game of the season, finishing with 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting.

  • The Wolves committed only nine turnovers (one shy of a season low), including just six after the first quarter.

  • J.J. Barea gave the Wolves a nice lift off the bench, scoring 16 points. Barea came into tonight averaging 13.5 points over his last six contests.
  • Mickael Gelabale has been putting together strong performances over the past two nights, scoring 19 points on Saturday against the Nuggets and adding 13 more tonight. He is now 14-for-20 in those two games from the floor.

  • Quotable

    “I'm no different than the players. You have to find a way. The coaching staff is trying to find a way to come up with a game plan. We are trying figure out what else can we do. There is no easy answer but you have got to. There is 20 plus game left and we have to find a way to get something going until we got some guys back cause we don't know when that is going to do or if it's going to be. Of course it's difficult but this is a tough league." — Wolves coach Rick Adelman

    Next Up

    Minnesota will take Monday off before Tuesday’s contest against San Antonio here at Target Center. Tipoff is set for 7 PM on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM. The Wolves will wrap up the week with games at Indiana on Wednesday and Houston on Friday.

    For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com