After a Minnesota loss to the Washington Wizards on Saturday, the Timberwolves returned home to face off against Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks. Three Wolves players – Guard Wesley Johnson, Forward Martell Webster, Center Darko Milicic – were active for tonight’s game after missing a few games last week. Also, former Timberwolf and current Mavs’ Corey Brewer made his first return to Minnesota after spending the last 3 ½ seasons with the Wolves. Brewer was included in the three team deal to Dallas, which also sent Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks and Anthony Randolph to the Wolves.
In the first quarter, Wolves’ forwards Michael Beasley and Kevin Love led the club with 16 points combined. The Wolves also outscored the Mavs 20-12 with points in the paint. Wolves’ Wayne Ellington’s jump shot at the buzzer helped the Wolves sustain a 30-22 lead after one quarter of play.
The Wolves were able to increase their lead early in the second quarter by strong bench play, crisp ball movement and ball control. The Wolves had 10 assists to only 4 turnovers in the game, whereas the Mavs had 6 assists and 6 turnovers. Wolves’ reserve Anthony Tolliver’s three point play against Mavs’ Dirk Nowitzki helped the Wolves increase their lead to 37-26. Mavs Jason Kidd led a 17-9 run with a pair of three pointers to pull the Mavs within three points. Kidd extended his streak to 1,001 consecutive games of at least one 3 point shot made per game. The Wolves led at the half 50-48.
At the start of the third quarter, Nowitzki picked up his fourth foul with 9 minutes to go and the score tied 54-54. At the 7 minute mark, Love’s three-pointer at the top of the key gave him his 51st consecutive double-double, tying Moses Malone’s all-time record of consecutive double-doubles streak with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Dirk’s replacement and former Timberwolf Brian Cardinal hit three three-pointers in the quarter to help extend the Mavericks lead to 70-65 with 4:30 to play. Ellington’s three point shot capped a Wolves 12-0 run comeback to take a 77-70 lead. The Wolves led 80-73 after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, the Mavs came storming back led by Nowitzki to take an 89-84 lead with 7 minutes to go in the game. Love’s putback off of a Luke Ridnour steal put the Wolves ahead, 95-94 with 2:30 to play. But the Mavericks’ Jason Terry’s three point shot with 2 minutes sealed the victory; as the Mavs went on to win the game, 108-105.
It was another great effort by the Wolves tonight but unfortunately, the 10 missed free throws and 16 turnovers proved to be the difference. Kevin Love had another monster game with 23 points and 17 rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 25 points.
The Wolves play against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, where Love will look to make NBA history and break Moses Malone’s all-time record of consecutive double-doubles.
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Written by Phil Aguila