The Dallas Mavericks fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves Monday night in Minneapolis, losing 116-106. The Timberwolves were on the second night of a back-to-back, and missing several key players, including Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns. It didn’t matter. The Mavericks didn’t have energy or make enough shots to secure the win.
The Mavericks came out looking fine, not great, but they took control of the game early and looked like they could grind out a win against a lively Minnesota team. They led 30-21 after the first quarter. Then things fell apart. The Mavericks couldn’t buy a bucket, as they say. Dallas shot 62 percent on threes and 50 percent from the floor in the first quarter. In the second quarter, that dropped to 18 percent from deep and 25 percent from the floor. They only scored 14 points total in the quarter.
Things just got worse in the second half. Already up 13, the Timberwolves kept growing their lead as the third quarter progressed. With Minnesota up 16, Luka Doncic and Jason Kidd were ejected after Doncic argued a no-call too strenuously. The game essentially ended there. A comeback with Doncic on the court was already looking slim. Without him it was impossible.
“They were a better team tonight,” Kidd offered after the game.
Spencer Dinwiddie led the Mavericks in scoring with 20 points. Anthony Edwards and Naz Reid led the Timberwolves with 27 each. Jaylen Nowell scored 18 off the bench.
Here are three thoughts from the game:
The Mavericks’ frustrations are at their peak
NBA teams usually win games like the one the Mavericks played tonight. Facing a mediocre opponent missing two of their best players and on the second night of a back-to-back is usually a scheduled win. Instead, the Mavericks were down almost twenty in the third quarter. That’s tough to do with a top five player in the league and with a day of rest before the game.
It’s no wonder Doncic was frustrated, and he let it get the best of him, leading to two technical fouls. “I deserved the first one,” Doncic said after the game. “But for sure not the second one.”
Kidd didn’t speak about the ejection and didn’t take any questions.
The Timberwolves dominated the paint
Minnesota outscored Dallas 58-18 in the paint. Your first instinct might be to blame Maxi Kleber being out, but he’s not exactly a post presence, although his rim defense is sorely missed. The Timberwolves were missing Towns and Gobert. This isn’t about big men. It’s about the Mavericks allowing the Timberwolves free lanes to the rim whenever they drove and not being able to get to the basket themselves.
Teams have figured out how to create a wall around the paint for Doncic and there’s no one else on the team who can attack the rim reliably. Spencer Dinwiddie can do it a little, but not at the level the Mavericks need. At this point, it’s up to the coaching staff to scheme something up, because there’s no help coming in a trade or from within.
The Mavericks played slow against a tired team
Dallas was outhustled by a team on the second night of a back-to-back. That can’t be mentioned enough. As usual, they played slow, getting outscored 12-8 in fast break points. The Timberwolves outscored the Mavericks 16-8 in second chance points. They grabbed one more offensive rebound. They took better care of the ball, only turning the ball over 11 times to the Mavericks’ 16.
It’s simple — the coaching staff has to figure out a way to get the Mavericks out of these funks against teams that are facing adversity from the schedule or from missing players. It’s happened too much this season for it to be just coincidence. The Mavericks have a problem, and it’s up to Kidd and his staff to fix it.
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