The Dallas Mavericks notched their second straight win, defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves at home, 127-122. Kristaps Porzingis led the Mavericks with 27 points, 13 rebounds, six blocks and four assists. Malik Beasley poured in 28 for the Timberwolves in defeat.
With 1,500 fans in attendance for the first time this season, the Dallas Mavericks opted to put on a show in the first quarter. Seven different Mavericks scored, led by 15 points and six rebounds from Porzingis. The Mavericks started fairly poorly defensively, allowing the Timberwolves to keep pace with their outstanding offense. But after the Wolves closed the gap to 23-19 at the 4:47 mark, the Mavericks ended the quarter with a 20-3 run. Dallas played outstanding team defense in the final minutes of the quarter, with Tim Hardaway Jr. drawing two offensive fouls. The Mavericks shot 65% in the frame and led 43-22 after twelve minutes of action.
Things were sloppy for Dallas to start the second, with a pair of Luka Doncic turnovers along with the Mavericks committing four team fouls in under two minutes of action. But, since the Timberwolves are very bad and D’Angelo Russell appeared to leave the game with an injured quad which bothered him pre-game, the Mavericks had plenty of chances to extend their lead. Dwight Powell got into the action with a pair of dunks and Trey Burke hit a corner three to bring the Mavericks back to life after a stagnated first quarter. Porzingis re-entered the game and impacted the defensive end this time, blocking rookie Anthony Edwards repeatedly at the rim. Dallas took a 71-51 lead into the half.
In news shocking only to the most casual of Dallas fans, the Mavericks opened the third in lackadaisical fashion. A variety of poorly executed offensive possessions leading to either bad shots or turnovers allowed the Wolves to whittle down the 20 point lead to 12 in just over three minutes. The talent of the Mavericks paired with a pit of defensive effort resulted in the Mavericks to rebuild the lead by mid-quarter. Minnesota would make yet another run to close the lead to 13, but their offense stalled and Tim Hardaway Jr. kept the foot on the pedal, scoring four quick points. A pair of Powell free throws gave Dallas a 95-77 lead heading into the final quarter.
Minnesota, led by Beasley, came out gunning in the final quarter, raining threes down on a Dallas team that took their foot off the gas pedal. The 18 point lead became just nine with five minutes left. A lengthy review following a called charge in favor of Hardaway slowed momentum with 4:25 remaining, but Juancho Hernangomez missed both free throws, allowing Dallas to keep a double digit lead. Beasley kept coming for Dallas, hitting a pair of threes to close the lead to seven, then Doncic turned it over for the seventh time, resulting in an Anthony Edwards dunk. Doncic turned it over yet again and Beasley scored again on a put back. Josh Richardson scored on a drive to give Dallas a five point cushion. Despite a 45 point quarter, Minnesota would not come back. Dallas escapes with a 127-122 victory.
Now, some thoughts
Energized Kristaps Porzingis is entertaining
It felt good to watch Porzingis go nuts early; he had 15 points, six rebounds, and two blocks in the first eight minutes of the game. His shot looked smooth, he attacked the rim dribbling right, and played solid rim defense for the second straight contest.
Perhaps he’s coming out of his multi-week funk where he looked ghastly or perhaps he simply feasted on a woefully undermanned Timberwolves front court. Either way, seeing him play another game where he looks on track and energetic is relieving. He’s moving well towards the basket without the ball and has been rewarded with close attempts by his teammates repeatedly. Dallas has to make getting Porzingis a quality look a priority early every game.
His second quarter swat fest of rookie Anthony Edwards was particularly fun to watch.
Luka Doncic must focus
Considering Doncic is both the best and most consistent of the Dallas players, it may seem a bit unfair to lay the lack of focus at the feet of Luka. However, he’s the star player and his eight turnovers were painful and at least half were of the very lazy variety. Dallas gave up 28 points off of their 14 turnovers. Doncic attempted to tighten up late but he was so loose with the ball during the contest he was lucky his two turnovers in the final 90 seconds did not come back and haunt the Mavericks.
Josh Richardson as a secondary playmaker
Richardson shined as the off ball play maker next to Doncic, dishing out a season high eight assists to go along with his 18 points and five rebounds. He’s now had four or more assists in three out of the last five games for Dallas. Hopefully, the Mavericks will lead into these skills with Richardson more often as the space in the offense allows for multiple play makers to thrive.
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