The Minnesota Timberwolves looked briefly like they might make a game of this in the first quarter, but Dallas pulled away in the second and never looked back, surviving a Thad Young double-double and spoiling the return of Nikola Pekovic. Every Maverick who suited up scored tonight, Chandler Parsons led all scorers with 22 points on 9-13 shooting (4-6 from three), and Dallas won easily 98-75 with no one playing more than 31 minutes. I predicted this game would be a great chance for Dallas to score all of the points against a generally ineffective Minnesota defense, but aside from a big 35-point second quarter, the Mavericks seemed content to maintain, never scoring more than 25 in any of the other quarters.
The first quarter saw Minnesota grab an impressive five offensive rebounds. They managed to keep up with the Mavericks for a quarter thanks in part to Nikola Pekovic, who checked in for the Timberwolves with three minutes left in the quarter for just his 10th game this season. He immediately scored over Dwight Powell, drew a foul on the back-up big man on the next possession and then sank both free throws to give Minnesota a small lead. Fortunately the same moves were much less effective when Tyson Chandler came back in shortly after. Dirk Nowitzki also got off to a strong start in the first, sinking two of his three field goal attempts, including a long three-pointer from the top of the arc.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, Dallas did in fact score all of the points in the next quarter. The second quarter saw the Mavericks get a few quick baskets in succession to expand their lead and continue a 10-0 run they started late in the first. The Wolves continued their poor shooting, missing all of their threes and shooting just under 38 percent from the field, but they also continued crashing the boards for offensive rebounds.
Pekovic was one of the few Minnesota players who was scoring efficiently, but was shut down in the second by a Mavs double team, forcing him to dump the ball to his less efficient teammates. Dallas was able to continue building a lead, though, thanks largely to 50 percent three-point shooting, expanding it to double digits halfway through the second. A 29-5 run in the second half of the quarter gave them a 20-point lead that they took into the half, up 59-38.
This lead was thanks to absolutely stellar shooting from the Mavericks, who shot over 61.5 percent from three and 56.1 percent overall. Chandler Parsons in particular had an excellent shooting half, contributing 19 points on 3-4 shooting from deep. Even 25 percent three-pointer shooter Al-Farouq Aminu reluctantly got in on the game, sinking a three in the final minute of the half. Tyson Chandler had an unusually quiet half, scoring just two points on his only field goal attempt and pulling down just three boards. Unfortunately for all of us, JJ Barea seemed to have no desire to exact revenge on his former team.
Minnesota struggled hugely on offense in this first half, unable to sustain better than 33 percent shooting from anywhere on the court and making only one of their nine three-point attempts. Their one impressive team stat was offensive rebounds. The Timberwolves are the third best offensive rebounding team in the league, but this was a good illustration of why some of the better teams choose to give up most offensive boards in favor of getting back on defense: despite having only five first-half turnovers, Minnesota gave up 11 points on fast breaks in just two quarters (they average 14.5 per game).
Both teams looked sluggish to start the second half. Dallas' shooting cooled off a bit in the third, but Dirk again looked like his earlier-season self, shooting a little less frequently that he has on average this season but incredibly efficiently. Minnesota continued to struggle offensively, but despite scoring only 19 in the quarter, allowed Dallas just 16 (though not all of that credit goes to the Timberwolves: Dallas missed lots of open looks this quarter).
Dirk continued his relatively low volume, high efficiency performance in the final quarter, but the entire second half of this quarter was basically garbage time, featuring appearances by Raymond Felton, Charlie Villanueva, and Greg Smith. Dirk and Parsons were the clear scoring leaders, with the Dallas big men all having pretty quiet nights offensively, though Dwight Powell looked really solid in his 20 minutes, shooting 3-3, pulling down 10 rebounds and playing good defense when not guarding Pekovic. The bench had no trouble holding on the lead the Mavericks established in the second quarter. Dallas wins 98-75.
The Mavericks come home to face the Chicago Bulls in Dallas on Friday.