The Minnesota Timberwolves traveled to Dallas tonight without their All-Star forward Kevin Love. Love will miss the next two games due to a bruised left groin. Forward Anthony Randolph got the start for Love. Randolph, who was acquired in the Carmelo Anthony trade, has shown some promise during his brief stint with the Wolves. If given more minutes, Randolph could definitely be a big contributor for the Wolves with his size and athletic ability.
The Mavericks came in to tonight’s game red-hot, winning 18 of their last 19 games. Dallas has won both meetings against the Wolves this season and is looking for a season-sweep for the fourth time in five seasons.
Both teams got off to a cold start in the first six minutes of the game – with Minnesota shooting a miserable 25% and Dallas shooting 33%. Randolph had three nice early dunks – one off a back door pass from Center Darko Milicic, a dunk-tip off of a Wesley Johnson miss and a breakaway dunk off a pass from Michael Beasley. The Wolves took an early 14-12 lead after a Beasley spin move and basket off the glass. Mavs forward Shawn Marion kept the score close with 12 points. Wolves Johnny Flynn’s three pointer before the first quarter buzzer gave the Wolves a 23-17 lead heading into the second quarter.
Randolph’s 21 foot jumper at the top of the key kept the Wolves lead at 31-26 with 8 minutes left in the second quarter. Mavs Peja Stojakovic’s three point shot helped the Mavs take their first lead of the game at 39-35. Randolph continued to impress in the second quarter with a three point play and a monster two handed jam to keep the Wolves close. Randolph finished the half with 23 points and 6 rebounds on 10-13 shooting. Marion led the Mavs with 14 points and to a 49-47 lead at halftime.
The Mavs continued to extend their lead to 62-54 in the third quarter after Mavs guard Rodrigue Beaubois’s three point shot from the baseline corner. Randolph’s turnaround basket over Stojakovic gave him a career-high 29 points and helped cut the deficit to 71-67. After Terry’s three-pointer, Flynn had another buzzer-beating triple to cut the Mavs lead to 76-72 after three quarters of play.
In the fourth quarter, the Wolves came storming back to take a 88-87 lead after Flynn’s steal and pass to Wayne Ellington for a fast break lay-up with 6 minutes to go. Mavs Jason Kidd’s backdoor pass to Nowitzki gave the Mavs back the lead 93-90. The Mavs never relinquished their lead the rest of the way; defeating the Wolves 104-96.
If there were any moral victories in the NBA, tonight was a great one for these young Wolves. After being blown out by 25 points at home by the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, the Wolves came inspired to play tonight behind the play of Anthony Randolph. Randolph showed great promise by leading the Wolves with 31 points and 11 rebounds in the absence of Kevin Love. The Wolves displayed a lot of heart and hustle for three and a half quarters but unfortunately the playoff-tested Mavericks proved why they are one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
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Written by Phil Aguila