After an embarrassing blowout loss in Toronto last night, the Dallas Mavericks traveled to Minneapolis to take on the upstart T-Wolves, hoping to get a "W" and regain some of their dignity along the way.
Well, maybe they got one out of two.
Dallas came out hungry in the first quarter. Hungry like the...wolf(Duran Duran references are all we have in times of mourning). Derek Fisher started the scoring for the Mavs with a three and would score the team's first seven points, helping stretch the visitor's lead to as much as 13. As seems his custom, Chris Kaman would also start hot, shooting early and often with midrange jumpers just about every time he touched the ball.
It seemed this might be the Mavs night, as Minnesota was also on the second night of a back-to-back, but with a little over a minute left in the first quarter, one Ricard Rubio i Vives entered the game. Rubio, playing in his first game since March 9th, basked in the glow of raucous applause, and then proceeded to put on a show worthy of adulation, hitting cutters with a sick dish between the legs(and when I say between the legs I mean between many legs, not just his own), stealing outlet passes, and playing glue-like man defense.
Though Dallas would hold a 10-point advantage after one, Minnesota would dominate the second, hitting threes, controlling the glass, and taking advantage of silly Dallas miscues for easy points. Really, while Minnesota deserves credit for their play, these are three problems Dallas has had monumental difficulties with all season, and at some point writing about it seems redundant if not nauseating. An Alex Shved three would give Minnesota the lead at 40-39, forcing a Dallas timeout, but the run would not end there, as four more turnovers would push the Mavs first half total to 11 and help the T-Wolves build a nine point lead at the break, 54-45.
Dallas wouldn't give up, however, and the third quarter was the only real competitive one of the five(counting OT), as both teams traded baskets and Dallas fought simply to keep the lead from swelling too far out of reach. A Shawn Marion runner at the buzzer made it a 10 point deficit heading into the fourth quarter.
There, things started to get interesting.
Dallas began, first, to finally get stops at the defensive end, and this would fuel the transition game that netted the Mavs either layups or free throws. Then a Derek Fisher three, and a nice pick and pop midrange jumper from Elton Brand(off a nifty bounce pass that I had to rewind to make sure it was Darren Collison throwing it) made the lead 4. After some traded baskets, an Elton Brand turnaround the likes of which we've rarely seen this season cut the lead to one point. A few possessions later, with just under three minutes to play, Derek Fisher would hit a three and draw a foul to give Dallas their first lead in ages.
It would be short lived, as in the final two minutes ticky-tack fouls and free throws would slow the game down to a crawl. First, Andrei Kirilenko would hit two after being fouled by O.J Mayo, then Rubio would miss a pair after being fouled the next time down, immediately compounding his mistake by making contact with Derek Fisher on a corner two(one of many Fisher toe-over-the-line two's lately), and then, in the final crazy sequence of Rubio-related fouls, atoning by drawing a personal on Fisher, which would be Fisher's sixth and final foul of the game. Fisher, who had checked in for the "also fouled-out" Vince Carter, would sit, and though we didn't know it at the time, this may have been the nail in the coffin for Dallas.
Elton Brand and Nikola Pekovic would trade layups, keeping the tie at 102, and the final 50 seconds would see O.J Mayo miss a potential game-winner, and then the Timberwolves miss a pair of long jumpers, plus a few tip-in's to boot, in a mad scramble where Dallas frustratingly was unable to corral a defensive rebound and was extremely fortunate to not result in a score thanks to the horn that signaled the end of regulation.
In overtime, however, the depleted Dallas squad would seem to have little left in their reserves, giving up a dunk off the opening tip and failing to register a field goal until a Dominique Jones layup with the game already out of reach at 114-104. Minnesota would outscore the Mavs 12-4 in the period, an anti-climactic finish for a game with a good amount of drama to that point.
- The kids weren't all right, but the old guys had a pretty fair day. Shawn Marion would claim a third straight double-double and for long stretches of play appeared like the only guy who cared; something far too common this season. Derek Fisher had perhaps his best game as a Mav, with 20 points and the big play of the night for Dallas on the four-pointer to put the good guys in front, though he also fouled out and had more turnovers than assists. Elton Brand also looked lively for a bit here and there, with a 15-7 line, a few midrange jumpers that I hope will start to make appearances more than once every other week, and three blocks, including one on Nikola Pekovic that forced a jump ball with a minute left(unfortunately, Minnesota would win the tip and score).
- 19 more turnovers for the Mavs. And 17 offensive rebounds allowed. Big, glaring, neon-lit, exploding-letters type problems for Dallas, now. Even if Fisher has done some nice things tonight, he clearly has not fixed the issue he was presumably brought here to. Complaining about it probably seems harsh on a night where he puts up 20 points on eight shots, though.
- If you needed further evidence that Roddy is done on this team, on a night where two perimeter players fouled out, Dominique Jones played 17 minutes and Beaubois wouldn't see the floor until the game was basically done in OT.
- It's not often I talk about the players on the other side, but Ricky Rubio is special. If he and Kevin Love are healthy, I don't really have any doubt Minnesota is better than Dallas, even with Dirk back. Dallas is currently in 10th place, and one of the teams behind them, the Lakers, are probably going to make a run at some point(I mean, how can't they?), so the Mavericks have a long, hard road ahead of them. Hopefully, they get Dirk in the driver's seat again, soon.
|Final - 12.15.2012||1||2||3||4||OT 1||Total|
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