Wolves stop skid, avenge recent loss with romp over Mavs
Karl-Anthony Towns had 20 points and nine rebounds and the Minnesota Timberwolves made up for a narrow loss at Dallas four days earlier by tightening up their defense and blowing out the Mavericks 116-95 on Friday night.
The seeds for this bounce-back were sewn in the group text chat during the week.
“This team holds grudges. I like that,” Towns said. “The importance was understood.”
Jordan McLaughlin had a season-high 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting for the Timberwolves. They moved a half-game behind idle Denver for the sixth spot that they badly want in the Western Conference to avoid the play-in tournament. The Timberwolves, who stopped a two-game losing streak, play the Nuggets next week.
Luka Doncic had 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Mavericks, who missed an opportunity to pass Utah for sole possession of fourth place in the Western Conference. The Mavericks are tied with the Jazz, who lost at Charlotte on Friday, in the fight for home-court advantage for their likely first-round matchup. Dallas and Utah face each other Sunday.
“Every game is significant. We don’t have very many left,” said Dwight Powell, who pitched in 13 points for the Mavericks.
They also fumbled their chance to move a season-high 18 games above the .500 mark.
“We have to be better,” coach Jason Kidd said. “We didn’t play well tonight.”
The Mavericks held on for a 110-108 victory over Minnesota in Dallas on Monday night, a game the Timberwolves had the upper hand in until a late lapse — and a whistle that didn’t go their way. Then they squandered a 15-point third-quarter advantage Wednesday night at home in a loss to NBA-leading Phoenix while Devin Booker and the Suns shredded their second-half coverages.
“You’ve got to be able to respond to adversity quick,” Towns said, “especially if we’re going to be in the playoffs and we’re talking about winning a championship.”
The Timberwolves had seven players score in double digits.
“It shows how good our team is,” McLaughlin said. “One through 15 on this team can play in a rotation. It can be anybody’s night on any given night.”
The Timberwolves lead the league in opponent turnovers, boasting a streak of 71 games of forcing 10 or more, and they matched their usual aggression with some needed consistency on the defensive end. Doncic had to work for everything he got, pestered by Patrick Beverley, Anthony Edwards and Taurean Prince at various times.
Doncic delivered his usual array of slick passes, including a one-handed feed through Prince’s legs on the bounce to Max Kleber for a dunk in the first quarter, but the cold Mavericks cost him a bunch more assists.
The Mavericks, who are missing sharpshooter Tim Hardaway Jr. as he recovers from foot surgery, went 10 for 43 from 3-point range. Reggie Bullock was 1 for 11 from the floor, and Jalen Brunson was 4 for 12.
“We had so many good looks at the 3,” Kidd said.
SORE IN THE SECOND
Minnesota’s bench had a 47-38 scoring advantage. The reserves were on a roll in the second quarter, but that was also a painful stretch. Naz Reid limped off with a leg injury, though he later returned. Malik Beasley sprained his ankle and did not return. Finch said he hoped Beasley’s injury was not serious, but there was no clarity on his status after the game.
Mavericks: Doncic, who sat out Wednesday to rest a sore ankle, had 15 points on 5-for-17 shooting against Minnesota on Monday. … Sterling Brown missed the game after being placed in the health and safety protocols for COVID-19 earlier in the day. … Davis Bertans missed his third consecutive game with right knee soreness. Trey Burke was out with an illness.
Timberwolves: D’Angelo Russell had 15 points and eight assists after going 3 for 9 from the floor for six points against Phoenix. … Minnesota’s last three-game losing streak was Dec. 28-Jan. 2. … Jaden McDaniels missed his fifth straight game with a sprained left ankle.
Mavericks: Host Utah on Sunday. After that, the Mavericks have only two of their final seven games against top-six opponents in either conference. The Jazz have three of seven.
Timberwolves: Start a four-game trip on Sunday at Boston. They’ve won five of their last seven road games.