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4 observations as the Dallas Mavericks held off the Minnesota Timberwolves, 104-99

Back to .500, again

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Minnesota Timberwolves Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves on the road Wednesday evening, 104-99. Luka Doncic led Dallas with 25 points, nine rebounds, and 10 assists to go along with three steals. Anthony Edwards was the high point man for the Wolves with 23.

With so many key injuries plaguing the Mavericks, Dallas opted for an offense-heavy starting group. They responded with three and-one’s in the opening half of the quarter. Unfortunately, the Mavericks had difficulty slowing the Timberwolves. Dallas did, however, goad backup center and super sub Naz Reid into three first quarter fouls. The Mavericks trailed after one frame, 31-29.

The Maverick bench unit took charge and gave Dallas a small lead by the halfway point in the quarter. Austin Rivers went on a small tear to pull Minnesota back in the latter half of the period, scoring 10 in a variety of ways. Doncic scored seven in response and the Mavericks entered halftime down just one, 52-51.

Offense was hard to come by for much of the third quarter, with both teams missing multiple looks at the rim and from three. Minnesota never led by more than five but the Mavericks failed to close the gap until late in the quarter when the Doncic-Dwight Powell pick and roll carved up the Wolves’ defense. A pair of Doncic free throws gave Dallas a 75-74 lead after three quarters.

The final quarter felt just as offensively challenged as most of the third, with Dallas scoring just seven points in the first five minutes. A Tim Hardaway Jr. offensive explosion (eight points and an assist for a three) forced a Minnesota timeout with 5:30 remaining. Shot-making made all the difference for Dallas down the stretch, with Reggie Bullock rejoining the team to take and hit a pair of open threes to help extend the lead to right. The Wolves would rally back within three, but could not connect on repeated open looks. The Mavericks held on to defeat the Wolves, 104-99.

Now, some observations:

One run was all Dallas needed

From the 6:43 mark when Hardaway connected on a three to the 4:00 mark when Reggie Bullock hit his second three in under a minute, the Mavericks went from down three to up five. They made five threes in that timeframe. That simple stretch, when Dallas connected on open shots, was enough to defeat a Wolves team that seemed off kilter all evening.

The Mavericks only made one more field goal the rest of the game. Sometimes all you need is one run to win.

Tim Hardaway Jr. makes shots, Dallas wins

Per the Mavericks broadcast, when Hardaway shoots 45% or better, Dallas is 10-1. Hardaway hits shots and the Mavericks win. Hardaway doesn't hit shots and the Mavericks have a harder road to hoe (6-15 in all other games). Sure makes you feel good right?

Kemba as a point guard

This is a request as much as an observation: when Luka Doncic and Kemba Walker share the floor together, Kemba should run the offense. There were significant stretches in the second quarter when Walker was playing off ball next to Doncic which effectively made him a catch-and-shoot player. That negates his play making ability and having Luka off ball is good for everyone. It’s not something the Mavericks HAVE to do, but one would think that giving the Wolves something else to think about defensively is a good thing over the course of the game.

Christian Wood, defender

Wood’s never going to be known as a staunch defender. He’s too skinny and he’s not twitchy enough to react and help with regularity. That doesn’t mean he can’t defend at all, of course, as evidenced by the two stellar plays he made at the rim tonight resulting in blocked shots. His block of Jaden McDaniel at 1:52 with Dallas up by only five points helped seal the game.

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