The Dallas Mavericks lost 90-105 to the Minnesota Timberwolves, at home, and fall to 11-8. The Mavs had a balanced scoring night, getting 17 from Terry, 15 from Marion, and 11 from Beaubois. Kevin Love scored 31 for the Wolves and grabbed 10 rebounds,
It was, in some ways, an unfortunate game for the Mavericks—the kind of game where every loose ball ends up in the other guys hands for a dunk-- and in some other ways, not too bad. In terms of the long game, anyway.
The Mavs’ undoing in this one was a deadly cocktail of free throws and end of quarter execution. The first one they didn’t entirely pour themselves, of course. 17-2 free throw edge for the Wolves in the first half, 33-10 overall, and a lot of those were of the totally awesome "wait to see what happens with the basket, call the foul," variety.
The Mavs, again I felt not entirely through their own fault, also managed to put the Wolves into the penalty with 6:34 left. I won’t say any more, lest I get fined by the league. That’ll happen. Let it happen in January.
However, writing as the mature adult I am ( and several minutes after the game has ended), I am now able to say that despite all that, the Mavs still had a 10 point lead with a minute left in the 2nd, .powered by good execution from basically everyone.
Then they gave Rubio a pretty open three, followed by Jet throwing the ball away, followed by a Kevin Love three that I personally was counting as in, as soon as the errant pass left Jet’s hands, and it was a 2 point game at half. God, I love the Jet, but if it were me I’d play him at the end of every fourth quarter and at the end of no 2nd quarters.
At the end of the 3rd, after the Mavs crawled within two, they gave up an and-one with six seconds left to make it a five point game going into the fourth. To me the dagger came with about 8 minutes left in the fourth, when unaccountably the Mavs left Love open for three. He didn’t miss and it was an 11 point game with 7:22 to go.
To me, that’s the biggest improvement in Love’s game this year. He was always a good shooter for a big man, but he is a deadly, deadly three-point shooter now with Kevin Durant-like range. Good on him.
Again, so it goes. When you play great but you let the other team hang around till they start playing well, it’s bad news.
The good news? Well, a lot of guys played every well, for the most part. Jason Kidd and Jason Terry started re-finding their jumpshots, which is a must going forward, especially as Rick insists on his proven crunchtime lineups at all important junctures. Marion continued his streak of impressive play. And though it was pretty unconscionable for Rick to give Yi Jianlian—who took the exact same shot 11 times and made it 4—20 minutes to Brandan Wright’s 13 (4/6, making him 20/30 this year), it was nice to see the big guy hit some shots.
Wright, by the way, had the dunk of the year today. If you didn’t see it, go watch sportscenter.
The best news, of course, is that the Mavs got their rings today. And I can’t really be too upset on a night when that happens.
Listen, the Wolves are not a great team, but they’re a talented team, and Love is playing out of his mind. Because of their three point shooting, they can be particularly good at stepping on the jugular. Probably most people have forgotten that the last Wolves loss, the 99-82 game, was at one point 84-82. Then three balls like whoa. This is what happens, when you lose to the Wolves.
Still. The Mavs were 2-437 in the (apparently 439) games without Dirk last year. They keep playing well. Rick is inching closer to actually playing Roddy like a real, human basketball player (as many minutes as Yi Jianlain today!), and Roddy is responding. Nothing spectacular. He’s averaging 8 in the last five. But he’s playing good defense, and hitting good shots. He even blocked Kevin Love today, which was cool.
About the only really terrible part of this game is the fact that Lamar Odom, apparently depressed by the ring ceremony's reminder that he's neither a Laker nor a future Mavs, handled the basketball today like...well, like it was something that he really hated and wanted to dribble onto his feet and throw really hard at the side of the rim a lot. 2-14, and it didn’t actually look that good.
We’ll see how Lamar does. We all wish he were better. It’s not currently crucial.
Look, the whole West is about a game or two apart. You lose sometimes. Without your best player, sometimes you lose a lot. Remember last year? This year, the Mavs can even get 8 points from Yi Jianlian in Dirk’s absence. 8 points! Yi Jianlian!
Enjoy the rings. You earned ‘em. It’s not a night to feel too bad. I won't.