The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 121-114 Wednesday night as they start off a long five game home stand. Dwight Powell led all Mavericks with 24 points while both Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns each scored 26 for Minnesota in defeat.
The Mavericks took it to the Wolves early in the first quarter, as Luka Doncic repeatedly found Dwight Powell for looks both inside and out. After a Minnesota timeout, the Wolves settled some and began to chip away at the Dallas lead. Meanwhile, the Mavericks kept trying to deep threes but only found the bottom of the net twice in ten attempts during the frame. These misses allowed the Wolves to hang around despite how well the Mavericks scored from two point range. Dallas led 30-25 after twelve minutes of action.
The bench unit kicked things off for the Mavericks in the second quarter and an effort led by Seth Curry and Delon Wright built up an 11 point lead. It would not last. Really inconsistent refereeing resulted in the Wolves shooting 17 free throws in the frame, which helped counter their lackluster shooting from the field. Those free throws paired with Robert Covington becoming Reggie Miller from distance in the final few minutes allowed Minnesota to take a lead into the half. The Mavericks trailed 53-56 at the half.
The Timberwolves and Mavericks traded baskets to open the quarter with Towns and Porzingis each hitting great shots. But the Wolves built their lead up to double digits and appeared ready to run away with it as the Mavericks simply couldn’t defend the three point line. However, Dallas went zone on defense and mucked up the game, forcing three straight turnovers. The Mavericks, led by the effort of Dwight Powell, chipped into the lead throughout the frame. Dorian Finney-Smith punctuated the quarter with a massive putback dunk. Despite an up and down effort, Dallas trailed 80-84 entering the fourth.
Dallas entered the fourth shooting a putrid 4 of 26 from distance. Then something wild happened. Wright and Jalen Brunson each drove to the hoop to tie the game at 86 all. The threes started falling next. Led by the Maverick bench, Dallas hit seven of 11 three point attempts and pushed the Wolves right off the floor. Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis even joined in the fun, with each hitting what felt like back breaking threes against the Wolves. Though Minnesota would repeatedly try to make it interesting, a fourth quarter scoring barrage led by Jalen Brunson’s 14 kept the Wolves at bay. The Dallas Mavericks improve to 15-6 and kick off their five game home stand with a 121-114 victory.
The Dwight Powell game!
Though he exited the game midway in the fourth with what appeared to be a painful forearm injury, the Dallas Mavericks needed every single Powell contribution in this hard fought victory.
Simply put, Powell was everywhere. He scored 14 in the opening quarter, hitting a corner three, dunking great Luka Doncic lobs, and playing hard defense against Towns. His cuts in the third quarter were the only real Maverick activity in the frame, as Dallas appeared rather listless at times offensively.
I hope his arm is alright because his motion and effort are keys for the Mavericks this season.
Jalen Brunson and the importance of staying ready
Over the last six contests, Brunson has played single digit minutes three times and has logged over 12 minutes just once. This season he’s actually playing nearly six minutes per game less than he did last year.
A performance like tonight, where he scored 16 points total, including a masterful 14 points on 6 for 6 from the floor in the fourth, is a lesson in the importance of patience, professionalism, and confidence. Jalen Brunson effectively lead the Dallas Mavericks to victory in a game where little seemed to work for most of the contest.
Brunson also mentioned post-game that a close friend of his passed away last week and he knew that friend saw him play tonight.
The Maverick bench rules
We knew this, but it’s fun to type and talk about all the same. 45 points! Five of the team’s 11 three point makes! 12 assists! 21 boards! Just three turnovers!
Everyone had a part to play and that’s what makes this so incredible. Between Maxi Kleber’s bombs, Justin Jackson’s tough rebounds, and Wright’s slicing and dicing through the lane, there’s a lot to take away from this game.
Robert Covington is really good
The Maverick broadcast booth seemed a bit shocked by Covington’s play, but he’s essentially the most coveted guy who won’t actually end up on the trade market. He’s a 6-7” “three-and-D” guy who can guard up and down and is a fine shooter. He roasted the Mavericks from beyond the arc and was responsible for six of the Wolves 17 three point makes as they shot a ridiculous 44% from beyond the arc.
Luka Doncic is, in fact, a 20 year old human
This feels stupid writing after he posted 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists, but it’s worth talking about all the same. After a brilliant start, Doncic played a frustrated game. Between the length of the Wolves and the inconsistent reffing, the game got to Luka in a way we’ve not seen this season. His technical after a no-call was surprising and somewhat understandable.
Yet it was still cool to see Dallas power through a tough Doncic game and see Luka respond down the stretch hitting a big three in the fourth during the late run.
Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below “More from Mavs Moneyball”, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.