Mavericks Avoid Season Sweep, Beat Wolves 104-97

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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The Timberwolves came into Friday’s game against Dallas 9-5 in their past 14 games and on a month-long stretch of steadily managing their turnovers per game. Center Nikola Pekovic said when the team holds themselves to 15 turnovers or less, they put themselves in prime position to pick up a win.

Friday was not one of those nights. The Wolves turned the ball over 27 times against a Mavericks squad looking to avoid a season sweep against Minnesota, and in the end the miscues were too much to overcome in a 104-97 loss to Dallas at Target Center.

“We’re a youthful team and we’re going to have lapses like that,” forward Kevin Love said. “Unfortunately it was against a team we beat a couple times, and felt we could have won.”

Minnesota won its first two matchups with the Mavericks this season, once at home on Jan. 1 and another in Dallas on Jan. 25. In both those games, the Wolves used big fourth quarters—outscoring the Mavs 52-31 combined in those games’ final frames—but Friday was a different story. This time, Dallas (16-11) used the fourth to pull away from a Timberwolves squad making a drastic comeback attempt.

The Wolves (13-14) trailed by 17 at the 5:50 mark of the third quarter when they began to chip away. Forward Michael Beasley hit a pair of 3-pointers within a minute to cut the lead to 11 and guard Ricky Rubio chipped in six of his 10 total points during a 17-5 run that cut the Mavericks’ lead to 5 at the end of three quarters.

A Pekovic lay-up with 10:35 left pulled Minnesota to within three at 78-75, but Dallas came out of a timeout on an 11-2 run and put the game out of reach.

“Our effort was better (in the third) and we made some plays, but that’s not good enough,” coach Rick Adelman said. “You can’t do it for 4-5 minutes. … We’ve got to do it for 48 minutes.”

Adelman said the Wolves needed a higher level of concentration in the game and put a higher premium on protecting the basketball.

“This game is not going to be easy,” Adelman said. “It takes work. We were so casual tonight—I just don’t understand it.”

Love continued his dominance against the Mavericks in the game, scoring 32 points and adding 12 rebounds on the night. He’s averaged 29.3 points and 13.3 rebounds in three games against Dallas this season. He did so despite briefly leaving the game in the third quarter after hitting his right elbow on a shot follow through. He said he felt a burning sensation down his forearm for a few minutes before returning to the game.

But as good as Love played, Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki matched his production. Nowitzki finished with 33 points on 11-of-19 shooting, including four 3-pointers with that effortless arched shot that earned him his 11th straight All-Star selection this week.

“That’s the Dirk I know,” Love said. “That is definitely vintage Dirk—I’ve been watching for however many years he’s been playing now. He’s a Hall of Fame player and when he decides he wants it, more often than not he’s going to have success.”

Beasley was the Wolves’ most efficient shooter on the night, scoring 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting. He shot 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Pekovic scored 12 points and added seven rebounds, Rubio added 10 points and eight assists and JJ Barea and Derrick Williams each had six points off the bench.

Jason Terry scored 16 points and Delonte West added 10 points off the Mavs’ bench, while Vince Carter scored 12 points and Jason Kidd notched eight points and 10 assists. Kidd helped spark Dallas’ fourth quarter run with a 3-pointer at the 10:15 mark, quickly turning Dallas’ three-point lead into a six-point advantage.

Wolves guard Luke Ridnour said the team needs to refocus heading into tomorrow night’s home tilt with the Knicks, who beat the Lakers 92-85 on Friday and come into town on a four-game winning streak.

“We just have to, like coach said, get back to focusing and get back to taking care of the ball,” Ridnour said. “The little things we’ve done all year that gave us a chance to compete for a playoff spot. We just have to get back to that and play basketball.”

Pekovic said Minnesota has tried to rectify the turnovers that plagued them all season a year ago, but the ball didn’t bounce their way on Friday.

“Tonight was just one of those nights,” Pekovic said. “Tomorrow’s a new day. Of course we won’t forget this. We just need to keep ourselves more focused to do this, to not lose so many balls.”

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