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Mavericks vs Timberwolves Recap: 3 things from the Mavericks 118-110 shorthanded loss

Dallas gave a great effort with Luka Doncic, but it wasn’t enough

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Minnesota Timberwolves Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The short-handed Dallas Mavericks put together a gritty performance against the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Timberwolves before ultimately falling 118-110 Thursday night. Dallas was without Luka Dončić, who missed the game with a quad injury, and Kyrie Irving, who remains out with a heel injury and has now missed 15 games already this season.

Anthony Edwards put together a spectacular performance to lead Minnesota to victory, scoring 44 points and dominating throughout. Tim Hardaway Jr. was the leading scorer for Dallas, contributing 32 points off the bench.

The Mavericks looked completely outmanned early, falling behind 35-17 after an opening barrage of threes from Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Naz Reid. At the end of the first quarter, the Timberwolves led 37-26 and appeared to be well on their way to holding the Mavericks to a dismal offensive showing.

With just under eight minutes left in the first half, a corner three from Nickeil Alexander-Walker pushed the Timberwolves lead to 48-34. From that point on, the Mavericks finished the second quarter on a 22-13 run fueled by Hardaway and Seth Curry, who scored eight and six points, respectively, in that span. Entering the half, the Mavericks trailed the Timberwolves 61-56. Sloppy play from Minnesota (15 turnovers) was the story of the first half, as the Timberwolves squandered an opportunity to take advantage of a clear talent disparity and put this game away early.

The Mavericks managed to briefly take the lead on two separate occasions in the third quarter, but they were unable to hold up against a relentless attack from Edwards, who poured in 16 points in the frame. Hardaway scored 10 points in the third to keep the Mavericks within range, and they went into the fourth down 98-91.

Despite showing signs of fatigue on the second night of a back-to-back, the Mavericks had the game within striking distance down six with just under two minutes left in the fourth quarter before a dagger three from veteran Mike Conley effectively sealed the win for Minnesota.

Marquee offseason acquisition Grant Williams was a -30 in 30 minutes

Grant Williams continues to be mired in an extended shooting slump, as he was just 3-of-9 from the field and 2-of-5 from downtown tonight. In the nine games since he made five three-pointers and scored 19 points in a victory against the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 12, Williams is averaging just 5.9 points per game while shooting a dreadful 33.9% from the floor.

He appears to be struggling with his conditioning in a larger role with the Mavericks, and it is affecting his ability to provide any sort of consistency on either end of the floor. The Mavericks need him to turn things around soon, as they do not have many other options at the power forward position on the roster.

Signs of life from second-year guard Jaden Hardy

Hardy had one of his better games this season, finishing with 17 points and providing a spark for a team missing a lot of its usual offensive firepower. Hardy has failed to earn a consistent role this year stuck behind the more reliable Tim Hardaway Jr. and Seth Curry. He still struggles to get by defenders and finish at the rim, which is where he will need to improve to differentiate himself from the Mavericks’ other options at guard and receive more minutes. However, this was an encouraging performance for a player many had high hopes for entering the season.

The Mavericks need to get healthy

Dallas has now lost six of its last ten games and is 10-12 since starting the season 8-2. This stretch of tough losses is why it was so crucial that the Mavericks were able to bank wins early, but if they want to avoid the play-in, they will need to turn things back around quickly. It is hard to blame Kyrie Irving for his recent absence considering it was caused by a truly boneheaded play from Dwight Powell, but Irving’s inability to stay on the floor is forcing Luka to take on an unsustainable workload yet again.

Hopefully, Kyrie can come back soon and the Mavericks can start to build some positive momentum again, otherwise this season will start to feel more and more like a repeat of last season’s nightmare.