The Dallas Mavericks fell on the road Friday night to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 116-95. Karl Anthony-Towns led a balanced Wolves attack, scoring 20 points. Luka Doncic was the high point man for Dallas with 24 in defeat.
Both teams started off unable to miss and though things settled down by the middle of the frame, the opening quarter had eight lead changes. The Wolves slowly pulled ahead, as they marched to the line for eight free throw attempts, hitting seven. The Mavericks found themselves down 26-22 after one period. The second frame was a grindy affair, with Minnesota quickly building up a double digit lead and managing to keep it there for most of the quarter despite the best efforts of Dallas. The half featured a whopping 24 called fouls. Dallas went into the locker room down 61-50.
A strange malaise set over the Mavericks in the third quarter, where we’re used to seeing the third quarter Mavericks respond with some kind of adjustment against the Wolves, the Mavericks just fell apart. After Karl Anthony-Towns picked up his fourth foul, Minnesota went on a 15-7 run and closed the quarter up 89-67. Dallas got ran off the floor in the fourth and though it took Dallas a bit longer than expected to throw in the towel, they eventually cleared the bench. The Mavericks fell on the road, 116-95
Hitting threes is important to this team’s success (duh)
Luka Doncic hit 5-of-11 from three. Jalen Brunson, Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Reggie Bullock combined to go a horrendous 4-of-31. Sometimes guys are just off, so I don’t know what to make of the entire group being bad from three.
On to the next one, I suppose.
Maxi Kleber has to hit a shot for the offense to function
The challenge with the Dallas big man rotation is that it’s a rotation of two (until Marquese Chriss proves that he’s healthy). Dwight Powell can dive and work his way to the basket in interesting ways. Maxi Kleber can, but he’s in such a bad spot on the offensive end, his teammates aren’t looking for him. Prior to the All-Star break, Kleber could hit a three (he’s 7-of-47 since), but he’s been nothing short of awful since.
One end result is playing four on five on offense. Dallas often uses a screener to get Doncic a mismatch or a switch, but more and more he’s seeing soft doubles and when Maxi was in the game tonight it ended up as a wasted possession. Defenses want Maxi to shoot on the pop because he hasn’t made them pay in weeks. Kleber doesn’t seem to want the ball either, looking to pass first unless there’s no other option.
This is not to kick Kleber while he’s down. Dallas is banking on him figuring it out, but instead of getting better he’s getting worse.
Why did the starters play those additional minutes?
This game was over minutes into the fourth but coach Jason Kidd kept the starters out there for a while longer, including running Doncic up to 37 minutes. I’m sure all these guys want to play but that seemed strange. I know the bench is thin as well, but there wasn’t a good reason to have not thrown in the towel in my opinion.
Luka’s very bad technical
In an interview with Malika Andrews of ESPN on Feburary 28, Doncic noted that getting suspended due to technical fouls couldn’t happen. “It won’t come to that,” Doncic said. “That’s for sure. That’s unacceptable, I can’t do that.”
He inched closer tonight, picking up his 15th technical at the end of the third quarter, down 22. A 16th technical foul results in an automatic suspension during the next game. The Mavericks are in a tight race in the Western conference and they just lost a chance to take the fourth seed from the Jazz, who fell to the Hornets.
It might not be fair, but he’s put himself in this position with too much talking. He has to step up and not get one for the rest of the regular season.
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