In a very winnable game against another Western Conference playoff hopeful, the Wolves did not play their best. It was a frustrating tilt for a number of reasons, but the finish will stick in Wolves’ fans minds for quite some time.
The Mavericks reached 20 points before the first quarter had even reached the 4:00 mark, and that was right around the time that the Wolves failed to continue scoring along with the visitors. The bench did a solid job keeping the game somewhat close at the start of the second quarter, but as the starters began returning to the floor, the Mavericks only extended their lead.
Things got downright ugly in the latter half of the second quarter, as the Mavs scored at will and in a variety of ways (although mostly from a series of ridiculous shots by the apparently ageless Shawn Marion), and the Wolves simply lost all concept of movement, activity, continuity, and quite simply, shot-making ability on the offensive end of the floor. The Mavs were everything that the Wolves were not, and the first half proceedings were capped off by a floater at the buzzer by Marion, giving him 21 first half points and a 62-43 lead at the break.
The second half started similarly, with the Mavs at one point pushing the lead to 21 points. It wasn’t until right around the 8:00 mark that the Wolves finally began to make some hay. They reached the bonus quickly, allowing them to pick up some easy points at the line. Corey Brewer finally made some shots, including two threes, while Kevin Love continued to be Kevin Love.
The push became an avalanche, and the crowd was finally involved. It started with Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin getting to the line with regularity, and ended with Kevin Love draining jumpers and flinging a length-of-the-court outlet pass for a Brewer dunk to tie the game at 81. In just 8 minutes, the Wolves had erased a 21-point deficit, ultimately outscoring Dallas by a score of 38-19 in the frame. That’s the offensive fire power that this team has.
A three-pointer from Love put the Wolves in the lead for the first time since the very early going with just over 10 minutes left in the game. From there, Adelman sat his superstar on the bench and asked the bench (plus Pekovic) to hold onto a one-point advantage through the meat of the fourth quarter.
The Wolves held that same one-point lead when Love reentered the game four minutes later, but for whatever reason, Adelman refused to come back with Ricky Rubio until after the Mavs went on an 8-0 run and took a 95-90 lead at the 3:51 mark. It was one of Barea’s bad games, and Rubio had actually played pretty well overall, especially on the defensive end. A very questionable coaching move, and it hurt the Wolves slowish defensive rotations, putting them back behind the 8-ball.
Be that as it may, the Wolves managed to pull back within two points with one minute remaining, before Samuel Dalembert hit a couple of free throws with 47 seconds left to give the Mavs a 100-96 lead. Rubio found Pekovic on a beautiful screen-and-roll out of a timeout, and after Monta Ellis missed a long jump shot, the Wolves saw another rushed, crunch-time shot by Pekovic roll around the rim and out. Dalembert walked in trying to get the ball to Ellis on the rebound, and crew chief Ed Malloy, to the surprise of everyone, actually called the travel.
The Wolves had just over 6 seconds to try and tie or pull ahead, and after a reach-in foul by Calderon, about 3 seconds to inbound the ball yet again. Rubio got the ball to Love outside the three-point arc in the left corner. Love took a dribble to his left and went up with a potential game-tying shot. Marion raked Love across his right forearm and wrist, causing the ball to pop directly up in the air. Both crew chief Malloy and David Guthrie (#16) were flanking the play; staring right at it. No call was made, and the game was over. Here’s a .gif of the travesty, courtesy of @cjzero:
- Rubio played very well (4 points, 13 assists, 9 rebounds, 3 steals), including defense that didn’t show up in the box score. Adelman admitted post-game that he waited too long to put Rubio back in the game down the stretch. I would heartily agree with that.
- Love is a monster. He’s the fourth-best player in the league, and people that don’t think so are out of their gourd. He put up 36 points on 14 of 24 shooting with 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and just 1 turnover. It’s getting crazy, and to have this be the game where he doesn’t get an obvious call in the waning seconds? Unbelievable.
- Other than a hot stretch for Martin and Brewer in the third quarter, the rest of the team was pretty much atrocious on both ends of the floor. The refs didn’t cost the Wolves the game, but in a contest in which the squad battled back from a 21-point deficit, that’s a call that causes extra anguish.
- The Wolves host the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night at 7:05 CDT.