The Dallas Mavericks lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves in preseason action Saturday afternoon, falling 104-96. Karl-Anthony Towns and Naz Reid were the leading scores for Minnesota, with 14 each. Jaden Hardy led Dallas in defeat with 21 points and eight rebounds.
With the Mavericks missing Kyrie Irving, Dallas started small, rolling out Luka Doncic, Grant Williams, and Dereck Lively again, paired with Jaden Hardy and Josh Green. The Mavericks got off to a much better start on both ends, with shots falling on the offensive end and high activity on the defensive end. Coach Jason Kidd used a number of different lineups in the first quarter to mixed results. Dallas ended the frame trailing 29-20.
Despite starting the game scoring well, Dallas cooled in the second half of the first quarter and it continued into the second. Jaden Hardy broke the seal on a nearly six-minute scoring drought and by then the Mavericks were down by nearly 20 points. Dallas attempted to grind the lead down to single digits only for the Wolves to have an answer time and again. A late run lead by Doncic pulled Dallas within ten just before the half. The Mavericks trailed 53-43 after two periods of play.
With the star players sitting out the second half, Dallas and Minnesota had a face-off of rotation and bench guys. Every time the Mavericks tried to make a run, the Wolves had an answer, usually in the form of Naz Reid. Dallas did manage to get the lead to single digits off a Dexter Dennis shot, but couldn’t cut it past nine. After 36 minutes of action, Dallas trailed 81-70.
The final frame saw the camp invitees and end-of-bench players pull Dallas all the way back into the game. A massive Dexter Dennis dunk to cut it to two and brought the Abu Dhabu crowd to their feet. The Mavericks had multiple chances to take lead, but could not capitalize. The Timberwolves connected on multiple threes late to put the game out of reach. The Dallas Mavericks lost to the Timberwolves, 104-96.
Now, some thoughts:
Dereck Lively makes an impact
Smarter people than I will have deeper things to say about rookie center Dereck Lively II. For now, let us enjoy his impact and effort. Between his blocks and shot challenges, there’s also a guy willing to get on the floor for loose balls and make the right pass. There are plenty of rough outings in his future, but I feel really good about this pick through two preseason games.
Don’t overreact to these losses
It’s really easy to look at these two games where Dallas scored under 100 twice and start to worry. While there are plenty of concerns after these two games, there’ve been plenty of positive things to overreact to as well. This season wasn’t going to be easy with so many new players, but it promises to at minimum be different than how last season ended. Look for the positive things to latch onto and consider if Dallas can build off those things.
Dallas misses Kyrie Irving’s offensive versatility
Throught two games, the Mavericks looked pretty putrid on offense. Some of that can be attributed to poor shooting from everywhere, but it’s worth mentioning that the team really missed Kyrie Irving as well. Dallas built their team around having two dynamic threats off the dribble and when one can’t play, it’s a bit pointless to over-analyze offensive woes in the pre-season. His first game he was rather ineffective in 14 minutes, but we saw enough last year (and through out his career) to understand his impact on that side of the ball.
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